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When Pranks Cause Serious Injuries

An “innocent” prank can quickly turn sour when someone sustains a serious injury. It can be easy for someone to take a practical joke a bit too far without recognizing the potential ramifications of the action until it’s too late. One example is the “popcorning” trend from a couple of years ago – a prank involving an unexploded airbag that led to serious injuries. One young man suffered a broken spine because of the seemingly harmless prank. If you or someone you know received an injury because of someone else’s prank, talk to an attorney. You may be eligible for compensation.

Grounds for Prank-Related Lawsuits

When a prank results in injuries, it can be difficult to determine who might be responsible for paying the victim’s damages. As in the popcorning case above, the victim sustained a permanent injury and had to pay hefty medical expenses. In this case, however, the victim knowingly assumed the risk of injury. For all intents and purposes, he performed the prank on himself. The victim in this situation likely could not sue. When victims are innocent, unknowing players in a prank, on the other hand, it may be possible to sue on a few different grounds.

  • Gross negligence. If the prankster’s actions were so wanton as to suggest that the person had no regard for the safety of others, the victim may be able to sue for gross negligence. Any prank that injured the victim could be negligence if the courts deem that another reasonable and prudent person would not have committed the act in the same circumstances. The courts might award punitive damages in addition to typical damages for cases involving someone’s gross negligence.
  • Fraud or breach of contract. Some pranks and jokes are malicious enough to be grounds for fraud or breach of contract lawsuits. There have been a few examples of this throughout history. In 2002, a Hooters waitress won the company sales contest – one listing the prize as a “Toyota.” When she won and received a “toy Yoda” doll instead, she sued the company for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. She received a settlement that entitled her to pick out any Toyota she wanted.
  • Some pranks may make the victim feel frightened, threatened, or at risk of bodily injury. In these cases, the victim may be able to sue for harassment. The victim could sue for emotional injuries in these circumstances. An example could be if someone prank calls a victim several times every day with joke threats or heavy breathing. If the prank calls caused emotional or mental trauma to the victim, he or she could sue despite having no physical injuries.

A prank can quickly go wrong and end in a lawsuit, especially if it involves a stranger. If someone else’s idea of a practical joke resulted in physical injury, emotional suffering, or property damage to you, consult with an attorney. The individual’s actions may constitute grounds for a personal injury lawsuit or civil action. You can sue for personal damages while a criminal case is pending against the prankster.

Suing for a Prank

There are many situations in which a prank victim could sue for damages – the prank might have occurred on someone’s property, opening the door to a premises liability lawsuit. An insurance policy might cover the event. The item used for the prank might have a defect, causing your injuries. If you believe you have grounds to file a lawsuit against someone who organized or carried out a prank, or a third party, speak to an attorney in Texas. An attorney can help you fight for damage recovery for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.