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When the holidays arrive or a local sports team wins a championship, one of the most inspiring responses is a parade.  As the song says, we all love parades, but they, like any crowd gatherings, can also be dangerous places.

Parades have featured injuries by children getting too close to the floats, candy being thrown from floats, and even by criminals in the crowd.  What all of these cases share, however, is the fact that the injured party wants to hold someone liable.  In Florida, an injury at a parade is treated as a kind of premises liability case, like a slip and fall injury or negligent security in an apartment building.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is a legal concept that relates to a property owner’s liability for any injuries caused by an unsafe condition on the property as a result of the owner’s negligence.  In other words, public and private property owners have a legal duty to keep their property safe for visitors.  If an owner breaches that duty and a visitor is injured from the dangerous condition and suffers damages, the property owner will likely be found responsible for those damages.

Is a Parade a Premises?

Yes, a parade is, in effect, a temporary premises.  Even though it may be a one-time event and be held in a public space, someone will still be responsible for injuries and for ensuring a reasonable amount of safety for those who attend the parade.  The law ultimately says that whoever is organizing the public event is also accepting the legal duty of care that would be present in a permanent location.

Can You Sue if You Were Injured at a Parade?

Yes.  As we said, a parade is a temporary premise where the organizer has the same duty as a fixed-site property owner.  The organizer must take steps to ensure a reasonably safe environment for the parade.  Thus, with our examples above, a little temporary fencing on the parade route would have prevented the child from getting near the float.  Likewise, prohibiting the people on the float from throwing candy would have prevented that injury.  Finally, having reasonable security at the parade may not present any criminally-based injury, but it would at least show that the organizer was aware of the duty of care and took reasonable steps to observe it.

What Does the Organizer Have to Do?

Like all property owners, the premises liability owner:

  • Has a duty of care to those attending the parade to keep them reasonably safe
  • Has breached that duty if they have not taken reasonable steps to keep attendees safe
  • The failure to take such reasonable steps is the cause of the attendee’s injury
  • The injury resulted in damages to the attendee

What Do You Have to Do?

You and your personal injury attorney must submit persuasive evidence that at least one element of the premises liability duty was not met by the parade organizer.  For example, your personal injury lawyer may argue that the parade organizer failed to take reasonable steps to prevent your injury.  If you and your personal injury lawsuit lawyer can show that the failure caused your injury, then you may be able to recover your damages.  Thus, if you were injured by objects being thrown from the floats, you can argue that the parade organizer should have taken reasonable steps to prevent things from being thrown by people on the floats.

In the same way, if the parade organizer provides no security to protect attendees and one is injured by a criminal in the crowd, the organizer can probably be shown not to have acted with reasonable care.  In other words,  you would argue that your injury and the damages it caused resulted from the parade organizer’s failure to provide reasonable security.

What Kinds of Injuries Happen at Parades?

Certain injuries are more common than others at a parade.  Some of these include:

Crowd Control Injuries

Parades by definition feature crowds.  A parade without a crowd of watchers would be a failure.  However, any time there is a crowd, there is the potential for injuries.  The crowd can itself crush people or push them into ongoing traffic.  After the parade, the departure of the crowd could also cause injuries.  In other words, crowd control is extremely important at a parade and can be a significant source of liability for the parade organizer if not handled well.

Thrown Object Injuries

Parade participants, usually riding on the floats, are tasked with cheering up the crowd and increasing their enthusiasm.  One way to do this is to toss things at the crowd.  They might throw candy or use a t-shirt gun to shoot promotional t-shirts into the crowd.  Unfortunately, attendees can be hurt by being struck by one of the tossed objects.  They can also be injured when people rush and jump to catch one of the objects like t-shirts. In sum, the parade organizer needs to impose reasonable controls on tossing, throwing, or shooting physical objects into the crowd because of this risk of injury.  The organizer may not be able to completely prevent such acts but must be able to show a reasonable effort to do so.

Premises Condition Injuries

While the parade organizer can’t entirely control the physical condition of the parade route, they can take steps to make sure that people attending the parade are aware of any dangerous conditions.  They can do this with signage or with rope lines around the damage.  In either case, they must take reasonable steps to ensure attendees are aware of the danger.

Vehicle Injuries

Most people don’t think much about vehicle injuries in the relatively pedestrian nature of a parade.  A crowd of people are standing around watching what is usually some floats surrounded by people marching by.  Nonetheless, the organizer needs to anticipate and take reasonable steps to prevent vehicle injuries from, perhaps, a float that goes out of control or a child wandering into the path of one.

What to Do if You or a Loved One Is Injured

If you or a loved one is injured at a parade, one of your early steps should be to contact a law firm focused on personal injury cases like The Morgan Law Group.  Let them bring their experience to bear on your case to obtain the recovery you deserve.