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How to Protect Yourself When Festivals & Events Turn Deadly

I can't remember if I cried
⁠When I read about his widowed bride
⁠But something touched me deep inside
⁠The day the music died

“American Pie” by Don McLean

The Day the Music Died

2017 changed the world of live entertainment forever. A mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas and a bombing at a concert in Manchester, England left music and sporting fans around the world fearful for their safety. Gone were the days when we could gather with friends at a concert without considering that we may not walk out alive. No longer could we enter a stadium event without glancing at the nearest exit and mentally plotting an escape route.

On May 22, 2017, shock and disbelief swept around the globe as news broke of a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in England. The horrific tragedy killed 22 people and injured 100 more, many of whom were children and teenagers. 

On October 1, 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history took place when a lone gunman opened fire on fans during Jason Aldean’s performance at Route 91, a Las Vegas country music festival. Fifty-eight people lost their lives that day, and two others died years after the incident, as a result of their injuries. An additional 850 people were injured and countless more were left emotionally traumatized from the massacre.

Concertgoers, sports fans, and attendees of any large-scale event must contend with a host of potential hazards when they step onto the festival grounds or into a crowded arena. Some of the potential dangers at large-scale events include:  

  • Active shooter situations

  • Bombings

  • Crowd crush / stampedes

  • Individual violent attendees

  • Venue hazards

With Carpenter & Zuckerman’s main offices located in Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, our experienced personal injury lawyers have successfully litigated countless lawsuits for victims injured at large-scale events, concerts, and festivals since 1995. If you have been injured at Coachella, Stagecoach, Burning Man, or any other event, contact CZ Law today for a FREE consultation!

What to Do if You Are Injured at a Festival or Stadium Event

Since the dawn of time, music and sports have brought people together. In years past, Americans gathered in stadiums and other public venues across the country to communally enjoy music festivals, concerts, sports, and other events without fear. However, with the continuing rise in gun violence in America, including mass shootings in public spaces, blissful ignorance is no longer an option. We must all educate and prepare ourselves for the unthinkable: when public events turn deadly. Continue reading for tips on handling several dangerous scenarios in public venues.

Active Shooter Situations / Bombings

When you first enter a stadium event or festival, scan your environment for potential dangers. Once seated, make a mental note of the two nearest exits and plan an escape route. If you encounter an active shooter situation, take the following steps recommended by the Department of Homeland Security to protect yourself:


  • Attempt to evacuate & help others escape

  • Hide or take cover, if escape is not possible

  • Silence cell phones; stay as quiet & calm as possible

  • As a last resort, attempt to incapacitate the shooter

  • Call 911 & follow the instructions of law enforcement

  • Exit the building toward the direction police are entering from


  • Evacuate with your belongings – leave them behind

  • Wait for others who disagree on evacuating

  • Attempt to move injured people

  • Scream or panic, to the best of your ability

  • Expect medical aid from the first wave of police to enter the venue

  • Stop police to ask for directions out of the venue


If you are assaulted by a drunken or aggressive attendee at a concert, sporting event, or festival, follow the tips below to ensure the incident is properly documented so you will have the strongest case possible, should you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the assailant:


  • Move or request to be reseated away from an aggressive attendee

  • File an incident report with the venue’s security personnel or management

  • Call 911 if you are assaulted

  • Take pictures of your injuries & the scene of the incident

  • Obtain contact information from willing witnesses

  • Obtain a medical evaluation as soon as possible


  • Engage verbally or physically with aggressive attendees

  • Post details of an assault on social media

  • Downplay your injuries

  • Admit fault or say too much at the scene

  • Accept a settlement offer without consulting with an attorney

For more information on what to do if you were assaulted, visit CZ Law’s Assault webpage today.

Venue Hazard Injuries / Slip and Fall Incidents

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, a trip and fall accident, or any other scenario relating to safety hazards at the venue, take these steps to ensure you set yourself up to recover fair compensation for your injuries:


  • File an incident report with a venue manager at the time of the accident

  • Take photographs to document your injuries & conditions at the scene

  • Obtain contact information from any willing witnesses

  • Save the clothes and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident 

  • Get a medical evaluation as soon as possible


  • Admit fault or offer too much information at the scene

  • Downplay your injuries

  • Give a recorded statement

  • Post about your accident on social media

  • Accept a settlement without consulting with an attorney

For more information, read CZ Law’s blog: Slip and Fall Lawsuits in California.

Stampedes / Crowd Crush Incidents

A concert, sporting event, or multi-day festival can result in life-changing injury due to stampedes, poor crowd control, inadequate security, or dangerous activities like mosh pits. Review the following list for helpful tips on protecting yourself from being trampled or crushed by a crowd surge:


  • Distance yourself from large, rowdy crowds of people at the event

  • Hold your arms up in a defensive boxing position to maintain space

  • Try to maintain a pocket of breathing room around your face

  • Voice concern for your safety to an usher, manager, or security personnel

  • Move with the direction of the crowd and try to match its speed

  • Make your way diagonally through the crowd & exit on the edges

  • Lie on your side to protect your heart & lungs if you fall during a stampede 

  • Call 911 if you are injured

  • Take pictures of your injuries & the scene of the incident

  • Obtain contact information from willing witnesses

  • Obtain a medical evaluation as soon as possible


  • Scream if you are experiencing crowd crush; Conserve your oxygen

  • Bend down to retrieve a dropped item in a crowd crush situation

  • Stand near barriers in front of the stage, where crowd surge is strongest

  • Wear long, flowing clothing or jewelry, which could get caught during a crowd surge

For more tips on protecting yourself from a crowd crush event, read WebMD’s article on stampedes.

Who Is Liable When Event Attendees Are Injured?

With concert halls and stadiums hosting anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of people per event, venue owners and operators have a responsibility to keep their properties safe and secure. Regardless of a venue’s size, there should be a security plan in place, including a detailed emergency plan with specific protocols for various scenarios. 

Venue owners/operators also have a duty to ensure the property is safe for general use, including properly maintaining safety railings, banisters, flooring, and staircase lighting, as well as ensuring adequate security at all concerts or sporting events. Failing to check for safety hazards and repair them in a reasonable period of time can leave a venue owner/operator open to liability if someone is hurt on their property.

When someone is injured at a public venue, there are several potentially liable parties. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can review the specific facts of your case to determine the at-fault parties, which may include:

  • The event promoter or organizer

  • The venue owner, manager, or operator

  • Performers, if they contributed to the incident

  • Third-party vendors such as concession providers, pyrotechnic providers, and manufacturers of equipment used at the venue

  • Security guards, bouncers, and the security company that employs them

  • Individuals, such as other attendees

  • A local municipality

Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you were injured at an event, whether the event was held at a small intramural sports venue, or a large stadium or concert hall, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party to seek compensation for your damages. 

Successfully litigating a personal injury lawsuit requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant acted negligently, and that this negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The four key elements of negligence that must be demonstrated include:

  • Duty of Care: The defendant had a duty to avoid causing injury to the plaintiff. 
    Example: The owner/operator of a stadium had a duty to protect event attendees from harm while they were on the premises.

  • Breach of Duty: The defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff and acted without sufficient caution. 
    Example: The venue owner/operator failed to hire adequate security for the event.

  • Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the victim’s injuries. 
    Example: As the venue owner/operator failed to hire adequate security, there were not enough security officers to break up a crowd surge, and the plaintiff suffered crowd crush injuries as a result.

  • Damages: The plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the defendant's negligence, including economic and non-economic damages. 
    Example: The plaintiff incurred medical costs for their crush injuries, lost income due to time off work, and also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the incident.

Assumed Risk vs. Negligence

Venue owners and operators may not be responsible for all accidents that occur at their facilities. Certain events and activities have assumed risks associated with them, meaning that the inherent dangers are understood. For example, being hit with a foul ball at a baseball game or a puck at a hockey game are dangers that are inherent to attending a sporting event. 

An injury victim may still be able to prove that a venue owner or operator acted negligently if they failed to properly protect spectators from harm. Using the above example, the venue owner or operator could be held liable if they failed to install the proper netting or barriers to prevent foul balls from sailing into the crowds.

Event venues typically carry insurance policies to cover accidents and injuries. A skilled personal injury lawyer can handle the insurance claims process on your behalf, and may be able to negotiate a settlement to cover your damages, including:

  • Property damage

  • Medical bills

  • Lost wages

  • Pain and suffering

Be sure to carefully select a personal injury attorney with true litigation experience, who can go to bat for your interests in the courtroom, if necessary.

Injured at a Festival or Stadium Event? Call CZ Law for Help!

The law firm of Carpenter & Zuckerman has been deftly litigating assault, wrongful death, slip and fall, and general personal injury cases for over 27 years. In fact, we have won more than $2 billion in verdicts and settlements for our deserving clients since the firm was established in 1995. 

CZ Law has the breadth of experience and necessary resources to fight on your behalf. We won’t rest until we secure the maximum compensation possible in your case, including reimbursement for your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The firm maintains offices throughout California and Washington state to serve all our clients’ personal injury law needs. With offices in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Orange County (Garden Grove), San Diego, Bakersfield, and Seattle, our experienced legal teams stand ready to manage your case. 

The show must go on, and the post-Covid live entertainment circuit is buzzing with myriads of options for concert and theater enthusiasts, as well as avid sports fans to enjoy small and large-scale public events. CZ Law wishes you the best as you step into the arena to enjoy the show. Take a moment to review the checklists of do’s and don’ts above before you head to the venue, and remember that our experienced personal injury lawyers are just a phone call away, should you need our assistance. 

Call CZ Law today at (310) 273-1230 or contact us online for a FREE consultation. You won’t pay any legal fees unless we win your case!

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