When Rock Stars Injure their Fans: Public Liability Insurance
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Mar 13, 2012

When Rock Stars Injure their Fans: Public Liability Insurance

Considering the high amount of alcohol that is usually consumed by rock bands booked to perform at live music venues, it wise for vocalists, guitarists and drummers (etc) and/or their representing agency to protect themselves with a public liability insurance policy.
Not only will such a policy protect musicians from the costs related to accidental damages they may inadvertently cause to venues and/or the equipment within (the purposeful rock n’ roll act of throwing the TV out of the window is not covered!) but such policies also financially protect bands should a fan attempt to make a compensation claim as a result of an injury sustained at one of their gigs.
Here are four examples of fans getting hurt at rock concerts, in which public liability insurance is sure to have been brought in to play:

Limp Bizkit: Big Day Out Festival, Sydney

Image credit: nme.com
The heavy metal festival known as Big Day Out (Sydney) in 2001 saw a 16 year old girl by the name of Jessica Michalik get crushed and then pass out after getting caught in an aggressive mosh pit during nu metal act Limp Bizkit’s set. Michalik died of a heart attack – caused by severe asphyxiation – five days afterwards as a result.
The safety and behaviour of the crowd was a concern throughout the entire duration of that fateful day, with post-hardcore band At the Drive-in even leaving the stage just ten minutes into their set as a result of the crowd’s incessant slamdancing.
Michalik’s parents filed three separate wrongful death claims for compensation, one of which pointed the blame squarely at Limp Bizkit. The courts however deemed that it was the festival organisers that failed to do enough to prevent moshing. The organisers did attempt to recover some losses from the band’s public liability insurance for musicians (because front man Fred Durst had “encouraged the crowd to rush forwards”) but were unsuccessful.

Damageplan: Columbus, Ohio

Image credit: roadrunnerrecords.com
On December 8th 2004, founding member of heavy metal band Pantera Dimebag Darrell – real name Darrell Lance Abbot – was shot dead whilst playing a gig with his latest band Damageplan. As well as the legendary guitarist, three members of the audience were too shot dead (one whilst trying to perform CPR on the rocker) and a further seven were injured.
The murderer was a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia named Nathan Gale who not only believed he was African-American despite being Caucasian but also that the members of Damageplan were stealing his thoughts and laughing at him. Gale – who was equipped with more than 35 bullet rounds – was eventually stopped by a police officer (Niggemeyer) who snuck in through the backdoor and shot him directly in the face with eight of nine buckshot pellets, killing him instantly.
It is unclear as to whether any of the injured party’s families were awarded compensation as a result of the incident.

Rammstein: Berlin Arena

German industrial rock band Rammstein are well known for their excessive use of outlandish costumes, props and pyrotechnics in their live performances. As well as numerous fans of the band having to be carried out of the band’s gigs as a result of heat exhaustion caused by the bands’ OTT love of fire, a 1996 show in Berlin Arena saw a burning ceiling rig fall and land on top of crowd members nearest the stage. Luckily, only a few minor burns were sustained by several audience members and as such no fan filed a claim against the band (at least, not publically).
The band has taken many steps since this incident to ensure that no one else is hurt at their shows in the future. Now only the highest professionals are employed to help with setting up of the pyrotechnics and vocalist Till Lindermann has since trained to become fully qualified in the art.
Here is the incident in all its flaming glory:

Oasis: Slane Castle, Ireland

UK Britpop legends Oasis played a show in 2009 at Slane Castle (Ireland) at which a 22 year old named Paul Kennedy suffered a fracture to his leg. The injury was not sustained because he got caught in a mosh however; Kennedy was actually queuing at the bar for a drink!
There was a colossal 83,000 people in attendance at the show and drinks were not being served quickly enough to meet demand. Kennedy had been waiting in line for more than half an hour when those at the back of the queue began to push, with the front of the crowd retaliating in the same way. This saw Kennedy fall over one of the crowd barriers, hurting his leg. Not realising he had fractured his leg; he returned to the standing area to enjoy the remainder of the show but woke up with a swollen leg the next day and had to seek medical help.
Three years later, the case continues...

As well as public liability insurance for musicians, the author of this post – Fearne McDonald – also works in the industry of photography insurance.