Carving pumpkins for Halloween is a fall tradition for many Georgia families, but it must be done carefully as the implements used are extremely sharp. A Colorado woman learned this lesson the hard way in October 2018 when she suffered a serious hand injury while participating in a pumpkin carving competition. The woman claims in a lawsuit filed on Oct. 28 that her injury could have been prevented if the ski and snowboard club that organized the competition had taken adequate precautions.

According to the negligence and premises liability lawsuit, the contestants were provided with no gloves or safety equipment and given no instructions when they were handed long serrated knives that lacked finger guards. They were then allegedly encouraged by the organizers and the crowd of approximately 200 onlookers to carve the pumpkins as quickly as possible. The woman’s attorneys say the resulting conditions were unreasonably unsafe.

During the frenzy, the woman says that her hand slid down the knife and she suffered a deep cut that severed nerves and tendons. She alleges that the organizers encouraged the crowd to haze the contestants as they carved the pumpkins. Her recovery included surgery and prolonged physical therapy. She claims that she still feels numbness in her hand and has not regained full motion or strength more than a year later. Her lawsuit seeks attorney’s fees and undisclosed damages for her medical costs, pain and suffering and lost income.

The defendants in cases like this one often argue that the plaintiffs knowingly engaged in behavior that could cause them harm. Experienced personal injury attorneys may counter assumption of risk claims by seeking to establish that inadequate steps were taken to avoid preventable accidents. When the facts suggest that the defendants in premises liability lawsuits acted with gross negligence and indifference, attorneys could seek punitive as well as compensatory damages.