Duty to Care and Premises Safety

When the public visits privately-owned property, there is still a requirement for reasonable safety and duty to care. Let’s look through some popular locations to see what elements of care owners, managers, and employees are required to provide.

Concert and Festival Safety in Indiana

Festival organizers are not just in charge of booking great bands; they also have specific duties and responsibilities to anyone attending their event. Keeping attendees safe is a top priority for anyone organizing a music gathering, whether it’s a one-day affair or a multi-day camping experience. Here is a rundown of what festival organizers are required to do to keep concertgoers safe.

Security and Medical Staffing

Any large gathering of people looking to cut loose and have fun undoubtedly needs someone in charge of maintaining order. A music festival needs security personnel to be stationed at entrances to search bags, check tickets, and make certain no illegal items or prohibited weapons are brought into the event. Additionally, a thorough and competent security staff should circulate throughout the festival grounds to ensure safety and make sure there’s no violence or illegal behavior. And while serious injuries or illnesses will need to be treated at a hospital, medical tents should have professionals on staff to treat minor issues like cuts and bruises or dehydration, as well as to recognize when a concertgoer needs additional medical care or an ambulance.

Sanitary Conditions

It may be expected that you’ll end up a little muddy by the end of any festival, but heading out into the woods for some music shouldn’t mean sacrificing basic cleanliness. This applies primarily to portable toilets that festivals are required to have serviced on a daily basis. Additionally, showers have become a popular option at many music festivals. These should also be sprayed out and sanitized. Generally, both these tasks can be performed by the vendor providing the facilities.

Clean Water

In August of 2018, the popular jam band Phish was set to kick off its three-day festival Curveball in Watkins Glen, New York. The group was preparing to head out onstage for its traditional soundcheck jam as festival-goers streamed through the gates when they were met with a surprising message: the festival was being cancelled. Due to excessive flooding in the area, the city had iss           ued a water-boil advisory and the festival runners were charged with providing enough bottled water for the hundreds of thousands of people set to attend. When they were unable to meet those needs, the city pulled their permit and they were forced to send every fan home.

Festivals need to have access to potable drinking water to ensure all attendees and staff can stay hydrated throughout the weekend. While concerts may get away with charging high prices for bottled water, there still needs to be running water for people to fill jugs or containers. If the water is contaminated in any way this could lead to waterborne illnesses and a potential lawsuit against the organizer.

Disaster Plan

Though outdoor festivals get the beauty of mother nature as their backdrop, it also means they’re ultimately in her hands when it comes to weather conditions. Severe weather can crop up quickly, especially since many music festivals occur during the spring and summer months. While an event may be “rain or shine,” festival organizers need to have a contingency plan in place in case of thunderstorms, flooding, or tornadoes. This should include evacuation plans or temporary shelters, and this should be well understood by all staff working onsite.

Stage Safety

One of the most crucial elements of a great festival is a visible, functional, and sturdy stage setup for artists to perform on. These are almost always provided by third-party companies who are responsible for setting it up, maintaining it during the event, and breaking it down. They are also in charge of confirming all parts are working correctly and that there are no structural issues. However, because the festival organizer hired this company, they too may be liable in case any issues happen with the stage, ranging from falling set pieces to a total collapse. Any breakdown in safety here could result in serious injury, something Hoosiers were witness to during the tragic stage collapse during the 2011 Indiana State Fair.

Haunted House Liability in Indiana

Sometimes, a professional haunted house will ask you to sign a waiver before entering. By getting you to sign the waiver, the haunted house operators limit your ability to sue them if you get injured inside. For example, say a patron wanders away from the designated “fright” area, and into an employee breakroom. If they injure themselves, they still can’t sue the haunted house even if it is responsible for causing the injuries outside the scare zone.

If you are injured at a haunted house because you were scared, the waiver may release them from liability, but it’s still best to document your experiences and the employee responses. Since the point of a haunted house is to be frightened, the question of if and when a line was crossed into negligence differs in every situation.

What the Actors Can and Can’t Do

Every haunted house sets its own policy regarding whether the actors involved in the attraction can touch patrons or not. When you buy a ticket to a haunted house, you are essentially agreeing to their terms. There may be a warning before you enter the premises, but this isn’t legally required. However, if an actor injures you or touches you in a way you consider sexually inappropriate, the haunted attraction could be held responsible for the actor’s conduct. It’s because of these risks many haunted houses go by the standard “no touching” practice.

Permits and Inspection

In Indiana, haunted houses are required to have the proper permit as well as submit to inspection. There are building requirements that haunted houses must pass such as

  • If an attraction has a maze feature it must have a visible exit every fifty feet and it must not include dead end hallways.
  • Building codes restrict haunted houses from having open flames and temporary heaters.
  • Group sizes may be no greater than 20.
  • Each group is accompanied by a staff member who has a working flashlight.
  • The building must contain fire extinguishers that are no more than 75 feet apart.
  • In most cases, the building must also contain an automatic sprinkler system.

Every professional haunted house must strictly adhere to these rules. If you notice these rules aren’t taken seriously, it’s best to proceed to the nearest exit.

Black Friday Shopping Safety

Black Friday has become synonymous for two things: great deals and unpredictable crowds. If you’re attending a Black Friday shopping event, there are many factors a store must consider before kicking off the shopping bonanza.

As a customer, you should be able to see exit signs and check-out lanes clearly. Managers should train their employees before Black Friday on proper protocol like crowd control, when to call emergency response, and to comply with emergency response regardless of company policies. Retailers must also hire additional staff, trained security, or police officers when big crowds are expected. This means smaller shops with less traffic may not hire security but shopping malls and department stores most-likely will. Shopping at stores with more security will likely decrease potential chaos and injuries.

Parking Lots

Under the Marion County, Indiana municipal code of ordinances a commercial parking facility and sidewalks leading to the lot must be reasonably free of snow and ice and in a safe condition for pedestrian use. This means you should be able to see lot markings of where to park and not slip and slide on your way to the door. Salt is often used to lower the freezing point of water, melting the ice. The water can actually even refreeze into black ice if not enough salt has been used. A commercial parking facility is defined as a lot or building used a regular basis to provide parking space for five or more motor vehicles, so if it’s street parking only, be aware of your footing. However, the company is still responsible for clearing sidewalks leading to the store as well.

Overstocked Shelves

Stores should have general guidelines for stalking their shelves. Some may try to add extra space for products because of the high-demand and increased traffic, but they shouldn’t be stacking their shelves in an unsafe way. If you witness employees trying to keep products from waving around after stacking them 10 boxes high, take that as your sign they haven’t been versed enough in their safety protocol.

 

Duty to Care for Indianapolis Trampoline Parks

Trampoline parks are on the rise across the United States. In the Greater Indianapolis area alone, there are at least 4 trampoline facilities, which shows just how rapid this new trend in active entertainment is growing. An entire facility made up of trampolines can provide an incredible amount of fun for guests, but they also exhibit their own dangers. Of course, these inherent dangers are the reasons that any guest looking to have fun on the trampolines must first sign a waiver. Standard, run-of-the-mill; but do you know exactly what you’re signing? Let’s look at some of the dangers of trampoline facilities and what waivers might mean if an injury is sustained during play.

The Dangers

We’re all aware of the inherent dangers of jumping on a trampoline, especially with others jumping unpredictably around you. However, there are no federal standards regulating the trampoline facility industry, which means that the extent of safety measures and the procedures to enforce them are at the discretion of each facility. One trampoline park’s failure to provide a safe environment resulted in the death of a 30 year-old-man after he jumped into a foam pit that was only 2 feet, 8 inches deep. The man broke 5 major vertebrae in his neck, from which he was unable to recover. Another trampoline guest, this time a 5-year-old girl received a broken leg, in two places, after a larger guest landed on top of her.

Waivers of Liability and Improper Safety Measures

Because trampoline parks present a safety risk, they require guests to sign a waiver of liability before they are permitted access to the trampolines. These waivers are intended to reduce the trampoline park’s liability if a guest is injured while using the trampolines. It’s important that you read through these waivers to understand exactly what you are signing. In many situations, a signed waiver can make or break a court case.

However, one lawsuit maintains that for some trampoline parks (one specifically identified in the lawsuit) it’s not a question of whether someone is going to get hurt or not, but when someone is going to get hurt. The suit states that the park did not do its due diligence in taking proper safety measures that could have prevented the partial paralysis of one 17-year-old boy in Washington.

Trampoline parks are more popular than ever, but visitors must ensure that they follow all the posted safety rules and regulations to avoid any injuries.

 

Factory and Warehouse Safety for Visitors

Warehouses, plants, and factories often put a lot of effort into ensuring the safety of their employees thanks to organizations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and that’s great. But employees aren’t the only people who visit these places. Some warehouses, for example, may see dozens of truck drivers visit to drop off supplies or load up finished product every day. Too often, these visitors can be injured and left with career- and life-altering injuries.

Visitors Are at Risk

The employees of any facility are usually regularly trained on safety. Keeping these places accident and injury free is important for everyone involved. On occasion, though, visitors may be in the facility, and they won’t know if the employees are following the safety rules or not.

Take subcontractors, for example. A subcontractor may know how to be safe around whatever piece of equipment he is there to work on, but he might not know about other dangerous areas. Is there a common forklift route? Make sure it’s clearly marked as such. Are hardhats required in specific areas? That should be clearly noted and conveyed to anyone entering that area.

Regularly Used Areas & Access to Safety Devices

Safety is always a personalized issue for each facility. But sometimes areas that don’t see a lot of foot traffic from employees are ignored from safety standards. Any part of your facility that may see foot or vehicle traffic should be maintained for safety.

Loading docks are a great example. In snow and cold weather, loading docks should be kept shoveled and salted to prevent slips and falls. If the floor inside a loading dock gets wet from rain or snow, it should be clearly marked and/or dried.

Truck drivers often get pinned or hit by other trucks around loading docks because safety protocols are ignored. Equipment, like leveling jacks and chocks, if applicable, should be made readily available to drivers after they dock their trucks.

Modified Equipment is Unsafe

In some warehouse or factory settings, special pieces of equipment get modified. As an example, a forklift may be modified in order to allow it to run faster. But these modifications aren’t always made clear to others who might need to use the equipment. Someone may be certified to run a forklift, but if they aren’t expecting the forklift to move at a high speed, then they aren’t in a situation where they’re able to put their expertise to use.

Have you been injured while on someone else’s property? Christie Farrell Lee & Bell has an experienced team of Indianapolis premises liability attorneys who can help you explore your options.