People in the Midwest know that our summer storms are no laughing matter and can often be very dangerous. These are not the types of soft rains you see in movies where someone curls up with a coffee and good book. These are the types of storms that often consist of such high winds, torrential downpours, and lightning, that people need to seek emergency shelter for extended periods of time. At times, these storms escalate to dangerous levels so quickly that people do not have time to travel to the safest location, such as a basement. When this occurs, and where people are still out in the open outside, they can be at serious risk for injury or death.
Unfortunately, such was the case in a recent accident in the Chicago suburbs at a local festival, according to Fox News. More than a dozen people were injured, and a man was killed, during a recent severe storm. When a storm ensued, people sought shelter in a tent. The storm then blew off the tent’s moorings, causing it to collapse on some of the crowd at the suburban festival. According to the deputy police chief of Wood Dale, three people suffered serious injuries, and fifteen people required hospital treatment. The fatality was a young 35-year-old Wood Dale resident.
The sudden storm took people by surprise as it brought on high winds, hail, and rain to the Prairie Fest. One individual witnessed the storm move in and the winds blow the tent up into the air and then land. When the tarp landed on people, emergency responders had to come to the rescue by cutting holes to get people out.
Even though a storm cannot be prevented, this still calls to question several issues regarding premises liability. First, we have to question why the tent was not secured in such a way to withstand winds. We should ask whether it was improperly tied down and whether the festival was negligent in creating a hazard that would cause injury and death to people in the appropriate circumstances such as a storm. Second, we should question why in such a large festival in the open outside that occurred in a geographic region known for harsh summer storms did not have a safer emergency location or shelter to seek that was better than an unstable tent. This is something that the festival planners and city could have been prepared for so that in a case of emergency they kept the festival attendees safe from harm.
Our attorneys believe that no matter the circumstances, that when we are responsible for the care and safety of others, we need to be prepared. Here, local residents attended a community festival where they trusted they would be safe from harm, and where they were paying for various leisure activities, which was to the benefit of the city. Due to this, it is the legal responsibility of those in charge of the festival to keep its attendees free from danger, injury, and death.