Types of Concert Injuries
When a lot of people are together in one place, particularly in general admission or festival seating areas, there is going to be an increased risk of injury if they are not properly managed and protected.
Serious injuries and even fatalities can occur at concerts when organizers do not take sufficient measures to prevent fans from suffering harm. Trained security and medical personnel are a big part of this. There must be enough of these professionals to help the crowd. The most severe injuries can be avoided altogether with proper planning and crowd management, which will prevent situations like crowd surges and stampedes.
Concert injuries can happen because of:
- Crowd Surges: When too many people are packed together, the crowd can become so dense that it moves in waves. Crowd surges happen when the entire crowd moves suddenly and powerfully. Crowd crushes happen in these same situations, as the crowd compresses dangerously. The people in a crowd during a surge or crush can be squeezed to the point that they cannot breathe. That’s what happened when 97 people died at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England at a soccer match in 1989. It happened most recently on November 5, 2021, at the Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas. 10 fans were killed.
- Stampedes: Often combined with overcrowding, stampedes happen when concertgoers are funneled into too small of an entrance or exit, often combined with an emergency like a shooter, a fire, or even heavy weather like rain. People can get trampled and crushed in concert stampedes or may die of asphyxiation. This happened in February 2003 at a concert at The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Just seconds into the first song by the headlining band, Great White, a fire broke out. 100 people were killed as they tried to escape, many trampled.
- Assaults & Attacks: When you have thousands of people at a concert, there is also a risk of sexual assault, fights, and physical assault. Insufficient security measures or ineffective security personnel can lead to assaults that leave fans with serious injuries or worse. Most instances of sexual assault at concerts are limited to unwanted groping, but things can get worse in bathrooms, dark walkways, or other less crowded areas. In October of 2021, a 16-year-old girl claimed she was sexually assaulted at a Harry Styles concert at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. She says she tried to seek help from security but that they “didn’t listen.” Security personnel must be vigilant in patrolling and responding to reports of any type of assault or fights.
- Falls / Slip & Fall Accidents: Fans can also be injured at a concert when the venue is not up to code or is poorly maintained. Uneven or poorly lit walkways, defective railings or guardrails, and other hazards can cause fans to fall from balconies or ledges. It can also cause them to slip or trip and fall, which can cause injuries like broken bones, spinal cord injuries, or brain injuries. In October of 2021, 2 people were injured and 1 man died in 2 separate falls from upper balconies at a Phish concert at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California.
Why Concert Injuries Happen
Concert injuries and deaths do not “just happen.” They are largely preventable, and it is important to understand what contributes to their occurrence – and their severity.
Concert injuries are more likely to happen when:
- Venues are overcrowded
- Crowds are not separated by barriers and walkways
- There are not enough security officers present
- Security and medical personnel are not properly trained
- Security personnel do not take reports of injury or assault seriously
- There are not enough entrances or exits at the venue
- Performers encourage, incite, or validate violence
- Venues are not properly maintained
When these conditions are present, fans can be seriously injured or killed in incidents that should have never happened in the first place. Event organizers are responsible for safety at concerts, not fans.
The Worst Concert Disasters in U.S. History
The United States has a troubling history of concert disasters, making one wonder whether if the companies responsible for organizing and planning these events have learned from their past mistakes.
1979 The Who Concert Disaster in Cincinnati, OH: 11 Fatalities
On December 3, 1979, The Who was set to perform at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a sold-out concert, with 18,348 tickets sold. Hours before the show was set to begin, a crowd had already begun to build outside the venue. It had reached 7,000 people strong by about 7 p.m. At that point, only one pair of doors at the far right of the main entrance was opened. People started funneling in through those doors, but at about 7:15 p.m., The Who started a late sound check. Fans thought they were going on early and began to push at the doors that hadn’t been opened yet. Others started rushing the only doors that were open.
11 fans were unable to escape, and they died from asphyxiation. 26 others were injured. The Who performed anyway, having not been told of the tragedy before they went on stage.
1987 Concert Stampede in Nashville, TN: 2 Fatalities
In December of 1987, 2 teen girls were killed in a concert stampede at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The crowd of about 5,000 was leaving a rap concert around 11 p.m. when a fan said he saw a gun. Some witnesses reported hearing gunfire or a firecracker. The crowd surged and stampeded, killing 2 girls, an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old, and injuring at least 29 others. One of the girls died from asphyxiation and the other from crush injuries by being trampled.
1991 AC/DC Concert Crowd Crush: 3 Fatalities
In January of 1991, three fans were killed at an AC/DC concert when the crowd surged toward the stage during the song “Thunderstruck.” 2 of the victims were 14-year-old boys and 1 was a 19-year-old woman. The arena held 13,294 fans, with 4,400 in festival seating, which refers to a seating arrangement at concerts or festivals where fans secure spots on a first-come, first-served basis. Festival seating has been controversial for decades because of the increased risk of injury or death due to overcrowding and surges.
2003 Station Nightclub Fire in West Warwick, RI: 100 Fatalities
100 people were killed and 230 were injured at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island when a fire broke out during the headlining band’s first number. Great White had just started their first song when pyrotechnics ignited the flammable acoustic foam that lined the walls and ceiling near the stage. The fire spread quickly. The stage was covered in flames within a minute. As the foam burned, it created a thick, toxic smoke that could cause loss of consciousness after just two or three breaths. Witnesses said the entire club was filled with black smoke within just a couple of minutes. Of the 462 people in attendance, 100 died. About half of the remaining 362 survivors suffered severe burns, crush injuries, and smoke inhalation injuries.
2021 Astroworld Crowd Surge in Houston, TX: 10 Fatalities
On November 5, 2021, 8 people were killed at the third Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas. 2 others, a 22-year-old college student and a 9-year-old boy, succumbed to their injuries days later. Performer Travis Scott, who has a history of enticing and encouraging fan violence, had just taken the stage when the crowd began to surge forward. Scott continued playing for nearly 40 minutes after officials labeled the incident a “mass casualty event.” Over 300 people were treated for injuries at an on-site “field hospital.” More than 20 were taken to local hospitals, with at least 11 of those people in cardiac arrest. 10 people perished, with the victims ranging from just 9 to 27 years old.
After a Concert Injury: What You Should & Shouldn't Do
The time immediately after a concert injury can be confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming. It might be difficult to know what to do (or what not to do) to protect your right to finding answers and recovering compensation for medical care and other expenses or losses. While every case is different, we can offer a few helpful tips to guide you in the right direction. As always, if you are unsure of what to do, ask your lawyer.
If you were injured at a concert, festival, or sporting event:
- Get medical attention. If you were injured, see a doctor. In addition to providing an official record of your injuries, seeking medical care is the best way to make sure you heal. So, even if you feel you have not been seriously harmed, see a doctor about any injuries you experienced at a concert or other live event. Put your health first!
- Don't accept a refund. Be wary of event organizers that offer refunds immediately upon hearing of your injury. If you were at a show that turned into a disaster, like Astroworld, this could be a tactic to try to limit your right to take legal action. Don't sign anything or accept a check without talking to an attorney first.
- Watch what you say. You should be careful about what you post on social media and even what you say and do in the time after experiencing a concert injury. Statements can be misconstrued as admissions of fault or signs that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. Event organizers, promoters, and their insurance companies will be looking for every opportunity to try to limit payouts and avoid liability. Be cautious about what you post!
- Ask an attorney. If you have any questions about whether you can file a lawsuit, if you were offered a settlement, or if you lost someone you love in an incident at a live event, the most qualified person to offer guidance will be an experienced attorney. An attorney who has handled concert injury lawsuits can help you determine what to do next, and they can protect your interests against any attempts by the organizers, their attorneys, or their insurance companies to try to avoid being held accountable.
Contact Our Concert Injury Lawyers Today
When concert injuries happen, victims and families are left wondering why. Why did this happen in the first place? Who is to blame? It takes an in-depth investigation into the venue, security measures, crowd management, and a number of other factors to determine why concert deaths and injuries occur and who is responsible.
At Arnold & Itkin, we’re known across the U.S. for protecting the interests of people who have endured the worst situations. We know how big corporations and their insurance companies will try to cover their losses and offer settlements that don’t begin to cover the losses and injuries innocent people and families have experienced. Our concert injury lawyers fight relentlessly to get answers and see justice served for our clients.
To find out how our concert injury attorneys can help you, call (888) 493-1629. There is no obligation. If we take your case, you pay nothing up front and no fees unless we win.