With summer wrapping up, many Midwest residents are making time to get outside and participate in the final music festivals and street fairs around the region. Fairs and music festivals can be exciting events for the performers and especially for their fans, who flock by the tens of thousands to see their favorite artists. This excitement can turn into something much worse when a festival promoter fails to do a proper job of ensuring the safety of concert attendees.
In the past 10 years, injuries have become more prominent at music festivals and concerts. However, attendees have also become more aware of their rights to take legal action whether it’s in the California deserts at Coachella, the Tennessee hilltops at Bonnaroo or the middle of the Chicago Loop at Lollapalooza. Regardless of the location of the concert or the genre, if you have suffered injuries, you have rights.
Chicago’s very own Riot Fest has faced its fair share of lawsuits in the past decade. The annual fest, which will be held September 15-17th this year, generally features punk-rock genre bands and moshing or slam-dancing. Most recently in 2017, two young women and their families sued the organizers of the show after both women were crushed by other concertgoers during separate crowd surfing incidents. One woman ended up with a broken ankle at the show after a crowd surfer fell onto her and crushed her leg. The other had a fracture in her neck and a head injury. Both successfully filed suits against the fest.
On November 5, 2021 at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, a little over 50,000 people were in attendance at the Astroworld Festival. During main headliner Travis Scott’s performance, the crowd took on a life of its own, surging and pressing toward the stage. Fans began passing out and several people were trampled in what’s known as a “crowd surge”. Eight people lost their lives that night. Later on that week a 22-year-old college student passed away from her injuries and a 9-year-old boy who fell from his father’s shoulders and was trampled by the crowd succumbed to his injuries about a week after being placed in a medically induced coma. Hundreds more suffered minor injuries. Since this particular incident, 4900 claims have been filed by concert goers, many of which are still pending in civil courts as of today.
Crowd surges tend to happen in places where there are too many people crowded in one place. They can happen at the gates of a venue, where a lot of people are funneled into too small of an entrance or exit, or they can happen in standing room environments where people stand to watch a show or event. There is little chance of a crowd surge or crowd crush in areas of a venue where people have assigned seats. Crowd surges are not a new phenomenon. One of the earliest filmed examples available on YouTube is a video of crowd surge seen here from an Oasis Concert that had to be halted for short periods of time due to attendees essentially being lifted off of the ground in waves.
If you are injured at a festival or concert here are four important things you should do.
1. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
One of the first things you need to do is try to get to a safe place so that you can assess your injuries. Even if you believe you have only incurred minor injuries, you should still seek medical attention. All outdoor events generally have multiple medical tents and staff scattered throughout the venue. If you don’t seek medical attention, not only could your injuries get worse, but you also won’t have any proof that you were injured at the festival. This could affect your chances of being successful when seeking compensation for any damage you have. If you leave an event due to injury, go to a nearby hospital immediately!
2. REPORT YOUR INJURY
After seeking medical attention, the next thing you need to do is make sure a formal record of the incident is created. This will help to identify the What, How and Whos, that are extremely important. (What happened? How did it happen? and Who is responsible?) By ensuring that the venue or management company creates an incident report, you will have proof that you sustained your injury during the festival. You may need to ask to create an incident report if the venue doesn’t do one automatically. If you do not create a report, the venue or management company may later dispute that you were injured at the premises. After an incident report is created, make sure you receive a copy. If the facility cannot provide you a paper copy or tells you they will email it or send it later, make sure you snap pictures of the incident report with your cell phone.
3. GATHER YOUR EVIDENCE
You should try to gather as much information as possible concerning your injuries. Do you have any witnesses? Were you possibly standing near a camera man? If you are able to take pictures of your injuries or the scene around you safely, do so! Everyone has a cell phone these days so it may be a good idea to scan social media after your injury. Someone may have recorded your injury and posted it on Instagram, Tiktok or Facebook without you even realizing it! Any video or photo evidence will help you build a strong case with your lawyer if you decide to seek legal action.
4. SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY
If you want to initiate a case for your injuries, it would be best to talk with a lawyer. Not all music festival injuries will qualify for compensation, and a lawyer can help you determine if your case is viable and likely to succeed.
Additionally, with the assistance of an attorney, you can also calculate your damages. Included in your damages will be your medical expenses, lost wages, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.
Organizers of festivals and concerts have a duty to protect attendees. If you recently suffered injuries while attending a festival, you may want to file a personal injury claim to cover the costs of any losses you suffer because of the injury. Festivals also present unique circumstances that often add a few layers of complexity in identifying the responsible parties in a personal injury suit. A person who suffers an injury in a restaurant would probably simply sue the restaurant, a festival however is a temporary thing and makes a personal injury case tricky.
Being injured during a music festival can be an incredibly traumatizing event, especially if you are not sure where you stand legally or what steps you should take. To discuss your next step, you should consider speaking to an experienced Katz Friedman lawyer for a free consultation, CALL 800-444-1525 or visit www.katzfriedman.com and use the “Contact Us” form on our homepage.
**Still not exactly sure what crowd surge is and what to do if you find yourself in one? Check out this great explanation by Scientific American. Crowd Surge Explained