Halloween is a popular fall holiday. Many people seek thrills associated with Halloween-themed attractions, such as haunted houses.
If you visit a haunted house and get injured, you might not recover damages from the purveyor of the attraction.
California courts have spelled out a doctrine for participants in recreational activities known as the primary assumption of risk doctrine. This principle means that a participant in a recreational activity has agreed to assume certain risks associated with the activity. Further, the business owner providing the activity has no duty to a participant to protect them from inherent risks.
The California courts have applied this standard of care to haunted houses. The courts have held that if you go to such an attraction, you are there to get scared and react in a frightened manner. The attraction’s owner will not have to pay for any injuries you sustain due to the haunting activities.
The primary assumption of risk doctrine does not provide an absolute defense to an owner of recreational attractions. In some situations, the court may determine that the owner or operator owed other duties of care to the participants. The attraction owner cannot increase participants’ risk by failing to maintain basic safety protocols. In addition, if an owner or operator knows of a hazard not related to the inherent danger of the activity, they must fix it.
A Halloween attraction may warn that you enter at your own risk. This is usually true when it comes to injuries during your participation.