The combination of large crowds gathered in a relatively small space, an emotionally charged atmosphere, and the presence of alcohol seems like a sure recipe for disaster. Yet, thanks to a great deal of planning and tight security measures, major tragedies at large music concerts or similar mass events are a relatively rare occurrence. When they do happen, however, they may result in serious bodily damage that often prompts the injured parties to file a claim against venue managers, concert promoters or even musicians. A recent example of such an unfortunate turn of events is an incident that happened at a concert of rappers Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa that was held in August of 2016 at the BB&T Pavilion venue in New Jersey. Almost 40 attendees were injured after suffering a ten-foot fall when the front row railing broke and collapsed. One of the rappers as well as Live Nation, the venue managers, are now facing lawsuits from three venue employees and 14 concerts goers. One of the plaintiffs, a 16-year-old cheerleader represented by her grandmother, is stating that the injuries she suffered at the concert forced her to temporarily pause her career. In addition, she now experiences nightmares because of the occurrence.
A person who has suffered injuries while attending a concert or similar event, and believes that the accident was a result of negligence on the part of venue managers or concert promoters, may have basis to file a personal injury claim. However, in order for a claim to be successfully presented and pursued, a general knowledge of how such a claim works with regard to the particular circumstances of a music concert incident is vital. The injured party needs to understand who can be held liable for the occurrence and where the liability arises from. This article will explore legal concepts and principles as well as present examples of circumstances that may lead to a personal injury claim following an incident at a music concert.
Not all injuries sustained at a concert merit a personal injury claim. If a person suffered bodily damage after engaging in an activity that had a high probability of causing an injury (for example, crowd diving or moshing), presenting a successful and valid case may not be possible. Moreover, venue managers and concert promoters often attempt to evade liability that may arise from potential accidents by virtue of limitation of liability disclaimers that often can be found written in fine print on the back of the ticket. Nevertheless, accidents and injuries related to unsafe venue conditions, inadequate security measures or the use of pyrotechnics may constitute a basis for a claim. Legal principles at work in these situations are called premises liability and foreseeable danger.
The principle of premises liability, also called landowners liability, states that the owner of a property (or the party responsible for the venue, like a manager) is responsible for damage and injuries sustained by the persons who enter onto the property if the injuries are the result of a dangerous condition on the premises.
Premises liability is more often than not based on negligence; the landowner has a duty toward the entrants to exercise reasonable care in order to prevent harm. With regard to concert venues and music events, the venue manager and/or concert promoter have a duty to, for example, provide sufficient security measures to control and contain conduct that may lead to injuries. Nevertheless, whether or not a particular damage or harm will merit a personal injury claim is connected to another legal principle, the foreseeability of danger.
In order for the property owner to be held liable for injuries following an accident, it must have been the result of a foreseeable danger. This means that a person of ordinary intelligence could reasonably have anticipated the injury that his or her negligent act lead to.
An example of a concert situation that may constitute negligence would be if the crowd in attendance exceeds the number of safety attendance limits of a particular venue. The crowd could run rampant resulting in people being knocked down and trampled. The injured parties in this situation may file a claim based on the negligence of the venue managers or concert promoters who had a duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions. In this case, allowing the venue to be overcrowded would be viewed as a breach of duty warranting a negligence claim, and the stampede itself would most likely be treated as a foreseeable danger.
Injuries From Actions of Third-Parties
The property owner might also be held responsible for injuries that resulted from the actions of third-parties. For example, a concert-goer may fall victim to battery from another patron who may have been under the influence of alcohol. Although the criminal conduct of a third party is usually treated as a superseding cause that relieves the landowner from liability, it can be argued that in this particular case, the incident was a result of insufficient security and control measures. It could be argued that the injury would not have happened or could have been contained if, say, greater numbers of security personnel had been present. The injured party will need to prove that the occurrence of such an incident was a foreseeable result of the venue managers’ or the concert promoter’s negligence.
As can be seen from the examples mentioned above, all aspects of liability for concert injuries and the pertaining legal principles may make presenting a successful personal injury case for an injury sustained at a concert venue challenging. Venue managers and concert promoters will likely try to invalidate the claim by challenging the foreseeability of danger. There is no doubt that the council and assistance of a seasoned attorney is needed to present and prove such a claim in a way that meets all the pertaining requirements. Those who think they may have a basis for a claim should contact an attorney at Marasco & Nesselbush to discuss the details and obtain necessary guidance