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Discussion Starter #1
So, I've been doing this for four years now and luckily no one has gotten hurt, but I got a chainsaw for this year(took the chain off of course) and it got me thinking...what would happen if someone got hurt while on your property, or got hurt while you were chasing them a little bit. Anyone know if we are protected, because nowadays they can sue, and the sky is the limit
 

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If a criminal cuts through your yard trying to escape the police after robbing a house and murdering the occupants and twists his ankle in a mole hole on your property, the bastard can sue you, and will probably win if they have a savvy lawyer.

Generally, using the "McDonald's" style disclaimer is considered a good start (Warning, dumbass, this coffee is HOT!)...you know, a rules sign stating the inherent hazards of entering your yard on this particular night and that anyone who does, assumes full responsibility for the risks associated with it.

But other than that, as long as you are not deliberately creating a hazardous atmosphere to ensure injury, your home insurance should cover people getting injured while on your property...but it won't stop them from suing you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, this year I was planning on having some sort of warning signs about 100 feet from my property..."something to the effect of a warning and enter at your own risk and Im not liable"

But in reality, would that be withstanding in a case....I guess, could you have people sign a waiver for them and their kids would be the the only real way, but we can't necessarily stop everyone and have them sign..

So hopefully some sort of sign
 

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Seer of All
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For that reason, I would avoid chasing anyone with a chainsaw on my property. For a professional haunt, it's probably fine. They've worked out the details and are most likely well insured. For a home haunt, I just wouldn't take the chance. I'd keep it more of a walk-through..
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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I'm not an insurance agent, so take anything I say for what it's worth. ;)

From what I understand, your homeowner's insurance will cover accidents on your property - but that's for normal visiting at your home. When you add in a bunch of scary props - some with the intention of startling the folks - you step outside the area that your insurance will be liable to cover (or at least, they'll see it that way if they find out about it). Even having a statement displayed on your property won't prevent someone that is injured and sue-happy from coming after you. It's whether your insurance deems it covered under their policy that you need to be worried about.

You are not only inviting folks onto your property, you're putting up things that could cause an injury or someone to trip, jump into/onto... it's falls into the "attractive nuisance dotrine" like having a pool or trampoline:
Attractive nuisance doctrine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quoting:
While putting up a sign to warn children regarding the danger of the land may exempt the landowner from liability, it will not work in all situations.[citation needed] This is particularly true when the child cannot read the sign. Usually the landowner must take some more affirmative steps to protect children.

So you're not completely safe even WITH a sign posted. See, you're still allowing people onto your property and putting them into a situation where you may have injuries or other damage - so the sign isn't even as effective as "stay out" since they are being INVITED to come.

Professional haunts and other venues have major liability insurance designed for this type of thing- that's one of the reasons that the ticket prices are so high. ;) Your homeowner's policy covers folks coming over for a get-together, but they probably would be pretty quick to tell you "no" if you ask them if they cover you in the event you do a home haunt...(especially as soon as the words "chainsaw" and "running at with" leave your mouth) or they will ask for more money for a special policy.

If you make 100% sure you've taken every safety precaution, posted warnings, let folks know that you're not in a business and just trying to do a fun thing for the neighborhood, you'll probably be fine...

This is why I don't do a walkthrough - strictly yard display that is fenced off and NO cords or other hazards. I live in a sue-happy state, so I'm taking chances even having what I do have. :rolleyes:

(I'm uber-paranoid, tho, so again, feel free to ignore me and do your own research and listen to the other folks that have experience with this first-hand :) )
 

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After 30 years in the liability insurance business I can tell you you DO HAVE liability when you run a home haunt. Especially here in California where you have a "presumption of insurabilty clause" which mean the average person can assume you have "medical and liability coverage" to protect them if you INVITE them onto your property. If you charge an "admission" or "donations" then you increase your risk and exposure about 1000per cent, which means you ARE going to loose your home unless you have purchased coverage for business usage and exposure. Safest thing is running a home haunt only in the front yard, don't chase people, put up a fence(safety zone) between them and the effects. If you invite them into your house, garage, or backyard, YOU will become the insurance company and if any injury probably loose your house, at worst and bear thousand of dollars in lawyers fees in the least. I am sorry, but we live in a scoiety where "EVERYONE" wants their pay day. Whether you have warnings, disclosures, etc., it isn;t going to except you from some liability. Check with your homeowners agent, get it in writing, and NEVER take just his word for it. Just a little FYI
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well first off let me start by saying I guess the only real way of ever knowing is if something happens, there's to many possibilities that in one case it might go in favor of the homeowner and in another case in favor of the TOT'ers...who knows... I sort of started this topic as more of an open ended question.

With that said, I have been doing this for 4 years now have not had any problems, nor have I put up any warnings or things of that nature.

Heres my situation, tell me if you guys think I have all my bases covered.

For one, you can see in this picture(taken directly in front of my house) the sidewalk that leads up to it from the main street. I was planning on putting a sign out there that says something to the effect of " Enter at your own risk, people who are pregnant, heart issues, etc, should not enter. Don't touch the actors as they won't touch you. Please stay on the sidewalks, and most importantly NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY INJURIES"

Now that is just a paraphrase of what would be put out there, but you get the idea...



Furthermore, for my haunt, (WHICH IS STRICTLY IN THE FRONT YARD AREA) is where I will have all of my displays, as you can see in the pics, our yard is made of IVY, and as such, isn't intended for walking, so any TOT'ers can only use the sidewalk.

Myself as an actor would only stay on the IVY


Again, with the chainsaw, I have already taken the chain off (NO DUH!!!) and depending on how dangerous it is, might even take off the thing that the chain runs around, so essentially all it is, is a noise maker.

ALL of the scaring has been done on the main sidewalk, when they approach our steps I leave them alone

 

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spookiness in the suburbs
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First, let me say that I despise the "lottery" mentality that ppl have today, and I'm repulsed by the judgements that some of these idiot juries hand down in cases where the "injured" party brought it on themselves.

HOWEVER, things being what they are, I wouldn't dream of a chainsaw scare or even a startle scare within 10' of those steps. You never know if someone might get freaked and charge up them instead of down the sidewalk. I'm not sure even a good sturdy railing on each side would make me feel better about it, from a "getting my arse sued off" perspective.

Just my .02, and I'll admit that I'm overly paranoid. DH works in insurance, and has horror stories about [email protected] bringing stuff on themselves, suing others, and WINNING. Even perfectly good liability waivers don't hold up anymore, let alone warning signs...

Other than that, MiRySd, your front yard is lovely and would make a beautiful creepy European-style cemetery. I'm thinking Prague or Edinburgh...
 

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Sorry, I don't have any advice, just a story to share. A few years ago I attended a Jaycee's Haunted House and was chased down a flat, straight sidewalk by the chainsaw guy, and my foot twisted sideways off the sidewalk, and I tore a ligament. ( or whatever it's called ) I went to the Dr. and had to have an x-ray and get my foot wrapped. I didn't sue anybody though. :)
 

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Grand Poobah
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This is why I will never do a "walk thru" or invite people into my garage. People suck.
The reality is nothing will probably happen. But the risk is too high. If someone blows out a knee or bumps their head... ugh.

I will, however, build a kick-ass haunted house for my kids and their friends when they are older. I am going to be the Tim Taylor of the neighborhood.

I do a display that people experience as they walk past it, they don't get to come close to it or interact beyond triggering props and screaming back...
 

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Yup

I wish everyone was like you or me in that regard.

If I have an "accident," I'm not going to hold anyone at fault unless there was gross negligence involved. But then, if there was that level of negligence... I was negligent for participating.

If a parking lot fair ride breaks and you get hurt, you need to realize you were the one that got on the parking lot fair ride. Accept your caramel apple and free midway tickets and go about your life. ;-)


Sorry, I don't have any advice, just a story to share. A few years ago I attended a Jaycee's Haunted House and was chased down a flat, straight sidewalk by the chainsaw guy, and my foot twisted sideways off the sidewalk, and I tore a ligament. ( or whatever it's called ) I went to the Dr. and had to have an x-ray and get my foot wrapped. I didn't sue anybody though. :)
 

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I too am worried as hell about insurance, liability and all that jazz, but in the end just play it safe. If your actor totally nails someone with their chainsaw or someone gets hit over the head with a board or something, which is kinda unlikely but possible,.....its your fault and I would sue. Don't use a chainsaw, make sure your structure is safe, and place wiring out of your path........a major injury is pretty unlikely in this case. I really believe that unless you are doing something totally ridiculous and accident prone,....no one will get hurt severely or hurt in general. Someone "might "trip over themselves and get a scrape, but most people would realize that it was a minor , common,injury and walk away. I'm not trying to say that no one is going to get hurt and that you should just blow past insurance an liability.....I'm just saying that someone getting injured so bad to the point of suing.....pretty unlikely.
 

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You can put out all the signs you want, claiming no responsibility for accidents, but the truth is, you CAN BE held responsible. Right or wrong, our court calendars are filled with pending frivolous lawsuits and insurance rates are sky-high because of it. If you're ok with the risk, go for it. Not something I'd be comfortable with but that's me...
 

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In the years we've done our walk through haunt, we once had a group of young teen girls scare each other to the point of one of them falling backwards into the others and knocking the whole group down like bowling pins. Funny as all get out but it happened on our concrete driveway. Luckily no one got hurt. Personally, I would not attempt any scare that involved chasing anyone. While the chainsaw might be rendered harmless, the person being chased could claim all kinds of things. We have people go down our driveway, into the opening of our garage and through the back yard into a neighbor's drive to exit. The way is well lit and we have actors/helpers along the path to make sure there is no horseplay and that everything moves along smoothly.
 

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You have a steep set of cement steps with no railing. It looks like anyone you startle with your chainsaw could fall off the side and possibly hurt themselves. If it were my house, I would stick to a static display, but I do tend to err on the cautious side of things. It is sad but true that we live in a world where some folks dream of retiring on lawsuit winnings.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Here's another pic, you can see to the right of the right window, it goes back away, that is where I would be with the chainsaw and I was thinking I wouldn't chase anyone with it, just hold it over my head revving it up....then set it down and come out....

The other thing that might help us, I suppose, is the fact that we dont even own the yard, its al HOA property, even the steps...nothing until the you step inside the house is ours...

So technically if something happen, it is on there property :p I dunno, just a thought

 

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I've been doing a haunted maze at the family grain farm for many years, as invite only.
Last year it grew to 3,000 sq. ft., our biggest yet! Did look into opening it to the public & costs associated. Just for the insurance alone, would have had to carry a $1 million dollar policy!
 

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sasquatch
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the chain saw gag is great in a haunt but I am not sure I would feel comfortable doing it on my property because of asynine people who have a sue everyone mentality.
 

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O.K., now I'm a little freaked out. I just stumbled upon this thread, and we are doing a walk through in our garage, WITH a chainsaw at the end. We post "House Rules", and warnings, but apparently, we are still taking a huge risk. This will be the third year doing a walk through, and so far, we haven't had any problems, but I think we will definitely look into this some more!

We are looking to open a commercial attraction, and have done tons of research into the legal aspects, so we do know about "Special Event" insurance.
 
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