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Claiming for Accidents at Outdoor Events

View profile for Cristina Parla
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We recently acted for a client in connection with a claim against an entertainment company as a result of an accident at an outdoor screening event. Whilst personal injury claims of this nature appear to be less common than other types of personal injury claims, outdoor events are becoming increasingly popular - especially since the pandemic.

The facts

The claimant attended an outdoor screening of the World Cup Final (England vs Italy) on 11 July 2021. The screening was intended to be a family-friendly event where members of the public could gather to watch the game on a big screen outdoors.

Whilst entry to the event was free, there were rules set by the event organiser that members of the public had to follow, including:

  • Alcohol was not permitted to be brought into the venue; and
  • Bottles, containers or cans were not allowed to be brought into the venue.

It goes without saying that these rules were implemented by the event organiser for the safety of everyone.

During the course of what was supposed to be an enjoyable family-friendly evening, certain members of the crowd started to behave in a boisterous manner and cans of drink were being thrown into areas where crowds of people were gathered.

Unfortunately, it was not too long before a can of drink thrown by a member of the public hit our client on the head which resulted in a laceration requiring stitches and glue at hospital.

Liability

A party will be deemed to be an occupier if they have sufficient control over the premises. At all material times, the event organiser had possession of the premises. Accordingly, the claimant brought a claim under the relevant provisions of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957.

Liability was initially denied but this was soon retracted following careful consideration of their disclosure documentation, which any Defendant must disclose in support of a denial of liability.

The event organiser, within their Event Management Plan, had risk assessed that the behaviour of members of the public may be affected by the consumption of alcohol which in turn could pose a risk of injury to other members of the public. 

In light of the risk, the event organiser implemented a system which imposed that:

  1. Security should be based at the main entrance to deal with any issues that arise, prevent external bottles or cans from being brought into the venue and be in regular contact with other members of the team via radio;
  2. Members of staff should be located throughout the venue as a point of contact for members of the public;
  3. Members of staff are required to monitor all attendees for any public unrest or potentially violent behaviour; and
  4. Members of the public who behave inappropriately will be asked to leave or be removed from the venue.

There was no evidence to show what training the security and stewarding team had been given and there was no report of the accident. Further, the event organiser failed to provide details of the number of staff present at the event, their respective positions throughout the venue, and records to show what steps had been taken to manage people bringing containers and alcohol into the event and/or manage inappropriate behaviour.

In this case, it was clear that none of the above steps highlighted in the Event Management Plan was documented let alone enforced.

Our client’s position on liability was also bolstered by the fact that there were negative reviews from other members of the public which were posted on the event organiser’s Facebook page. These independent reviews were to the effect that the World Cup live screening was not family-friendly, inappropriate behaviour was not being controlled, and external containers were being brought into the venue.

Upon being challenged in respect of all these points, liability was accepted.

Result

Fortunately, our client made a good recovery from his injury, and we were able to secure an award of £3,500.00 for his pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

Summary

There is a growing trend of outdoor concerts, festivals and cinema screenings, and event organisers have a duty to ensure that members of the public who attend these events are kept reasonably safe for the purpose of their visit.

It is not possible to guard against every type of risk, but where a Defendant has carried out a clear risk assessment and then failed to enforce their own policy and procedure, could result in a successful legal claim.

If you have been involved in an accident at an outdoor event and wish to take legal advice to see if there are grounds to pursue a legal claim, contact our Personal Injury team today.