Regardless of size, tents at their most basic are simple structures intended to shield people from the elements. While there are multiple variations to account for terrain, purpose and number of people, most tents share a few fundamental features – fabric coverings, support poles, and stakes for fastening. Extravagant modern party tents have expanded on the humble camping tent and must be set up by professionals using special equipment. These canopies are popular for banquets, corporate events, fairs, carnivals and circuses.
Two recent tent collapses highlight the danger presented by tents when severe weather strikes. In early August, hail and high winds knocked down a huge tent at a festival near Chicago, Illinois. The collapse killed one man and injured at least 15 other people. In that instance, surveillance video shows the man and his family appear to be leaving the grounds as the storm approaches when two police officers direct them instead to the tent. Whether there was an evacuation plan in the event of dangerous weather is yet to be determined, but it appears that if there was one, festival staff members and city police officers did not follow it.
Also in early August, a circus tent collapsed when a storm swept through the Lancaster fairgrounds in New Hampshire. A father who was trying to protect his 6-year-old daughter was fatally struck by a flying pole. Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain and the young girl perished as well. About 32 people among the 100 guests had to be hospitalized after 60 mph winds blew the tent down, pinning people and causing mass confusion. Officials are currently investigating whether the group responsible for the circus had the proper permits to hold the show and whether they heeded weather warnings.
There are dozens more stories of close calls, incidents when tents came crashing down just minutes after people left. Businesses should follow safe practices to make sure predictable and preventable tragedies such as those mentioned above are avoided. If someone was injured or lost a loved one through negligence, they have a right to recover for the damages they sustained. Among other things, negligence can result from improper tent installation, manufacturing defects and failure to evacuate in advance of dangerous weather.
If you have any questions about this topic, or if you have received an injury in a tent collapse, the Macon personal injury attorneys of the Mann Law Firm can review your case and advise you whether you have grounds to seek financial compensation. Call us today at (478) 742-3381 or submit our online form.