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Date Modified: August 17, 2023

The Alec Baldwin case shows that even dummy firearms can take lives on a movie set. Injuries sustained on movie sets can open a massive can of worms for workers, including actors, a stunt performer, or a stunt double. Dangerous stunts, in particular, are part and parcel of action movies. So it makes sense the production company needs stunt doubles to avoid a lead actor enduring a severe injury or death.

Grips (guys who handle set construction) and even a storied stunt coordinator or martial artist choreographer have been killed filming action scenes. Grips are usually there working beside these daredevils and are often placed in harm’s way as special effects can’t always replace a natural setting. Hollywood, however, is unforgiving if you try and sue them; so many stuntmen take their lumps and are even in fear of involving workers’ compensation.

Motion pictures come with a closed society of very egomaniacal producers, so even if you are in the right, you may fear you will never perform stunt work or get a job as a grip again if you get injured. I am sure you have heard the phrase, “You’ll never work in this town again.” Well, that word was invented by the moving picture industry long ago and still holds. So naturally, our compassionate personal injury attorney team understands you are fearful and must have some seriously debilitating injuries to be looking at this article.

Why Should an Injured Stunt Performer or Crew Hire Ehline Law Firm?

Our law firm has over a decade of experience assisting stunt performers, grips, and move actors with these sensitive claims. Below, we will discuss defective safety equipment and poor set management safety features, emphasizing action films. Ultimately, our award-winning attorneys will discuss how we can provide you with a free consultation over your temporary or permanent disability in confidence at no charge or risk to you, so let’s get into it!

Dangerous Stunts and Movie Injury History Discussed

The history of West Coast stunt performers in movies is filled with daring and impressive feats, but numerous injuries and accidents have also marked it. These skilled professionals have faced various risks and challenges throughout the years while performing dangerous stunts to entertain audiences. While there is no specific Oscar category for stunt performance, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognized the importance of stunts in filmmaking by awarding honorary Oscars to renowned stunt performers.

In the early days of Hollywood, safety protocols and equipment were not as advanced as they are today. Stuntmen often perform without the modern safety gear and technology that is now available. As a result, injuries were more common, and some accidents led to serious consequences. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, stuntmen faced challenges performing high falls, horseback riding stunts, and fight sequences.

World’s Greatest Stuntman

Dar Robinson was undeniably one of film and entertainment history’s most celebrated and accomplished stuntmen. He broke 19 World Records and set 21 World Firsts in various stunts. His fearless and innovative approach to stunts led him to achieve incredible milestones in the industry. His iconic jump off the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, was among his most famous accomplishments in 1980. This daring feat captured the world’s attention and solidified his reputation as a pioneer in extreme stunts.

Perhaps one of Dar Robinson’s most significant contributions to the field of stunt work was his invention of the “Decelerator.” This revolutionary device replaced traditional airbags and used a dragline cable to slow down during high-altitude jumps. The Decelerator airbag became a groundbreaking safety tool for stunts involving jumps from considerable heights.

No Special Effects Made Old Movies More Dangerous?

Yes. While many were highly trained, accidents occasionally occurred due to their work’s high-risk nature, which was well before CGI and other special effects. Buster Keaton, A director, and an actor, delighted in pushing the envelope with his stunts and thrilling audiences. He was the man to watch and not as a stunt double; he was the lead actor in many cases. He jumped from a moving train and even narrowly escaped a building from falling on top of him, defying death with no special effects, even close to Star Wars, etc. This guy was considered a hero for his epic feats in the City of Hollywood.

60s and 70s Audience Appetite for Dangerous Stunts

In the 1960s and 1970s, actor cowboys still rode horses dangerously. But as action films gained popularity, the demand for more daring stunts increased. Car chases, explosions, and high-speed action sequences became standard in many movies. In one case, a stuntman was attacked by a shark.

In 1967, Yakima Canutt, a legendary stuntman, and actor in recent memory, received an Academy Honorary Award for his outstanding contributions to the film industry through his remarkable stunt career. He was known for his daring and innovative stunts, and his work significantly impacted the development of action sequences in movies. Stunt performers performed these feats with incredible skill, but the inherent danger sometimes led to accidents and drowning injuries. This convinced people in high places to wish to avoid legal liability to address these dangers.

Advancements in Safety

Over the years, advancements in technology and safety measures have significantly improved the protection and well-being of stunt performers. The introduction of harnesses, airbags, and other safety equipment has helped reduce the number of serious injuries. The film industry has worked to enhance safety standards and protect the well-being of stunt performers. Stunt coordinators and directors have prioritized safety, and productions started to adhere to strict guidelines to minimize risks.

  • In 2012, Hal Needham: This iconic stuntman and filmmaker, was honored with an Academy Honorary Award for his groundbreaking work in stunts and action sequences. Needham pioneered creating thrilling and memorable stunt sequences in films, and his contributions were acknowledged with the prestigious Oscar.
  • In 2016, Jackie Chan: A world-renowned actor, flipped the script for fight scenes. Chan is famous for his martial arts fights and unorthodox stunts, often created on the fly. Jackie Chan was awarded an Honorary Oscar for his past exceptional and inventive stunt work. His impressive stunts and unique approach to action sequences make him a historical innovator.

Inherent Risks

Despite these safety measures, stunt work remains inherently risky. Accidents can still happen during complex and physically demanding stunts, even with meticulous planning and preparation. While injuries and accidents are an unfortunate reality in the world of stunts, the dedication and professionalism of West Coast stuntmen continue to be instrumental in creating thrilling action sequences that captivate audiences worldwide. These talented individuals play a vital role in bringing excitement and authenticity to the big screen, and their contributions to the film industry are both respected and admired.

Notable Deaths in Silver Screen History

Unfortunately, such accidents and tragedies have occurred during movie productions. Here are some examples of incidents involving stunt performers and crew members on film and television sets:

  1. 2012 – The Expendables 2: While filming a scene involving a staged explosion on a rubber boat, stuntman Kun Liu lost his life, and another martial arts stuntman named Nuo Sun suffered critical injuries.
  2. 2017 – Deadpool 2: Joi Harris, a stuntwoman doubling as the character “Domino,” lost her life while filming a motorcycle stunt near the Shaw Tower. The bike she was driving crashed during the scene.
  3. 2017 – The Walking Dead: John Bernecker, a stunt performer, fell from a height of 6 meters (20 feet) while executing a stunt. He missed the safety net by a few inches, leading to a fatal accident.

These incidents serve as a somber reminder of the risks and dangers that stunt performers and crew members face while working on movie sets. Safety measures and precautions are essential to minimize the chances of such accidents and to protect the well-being of everyone involved in the filmmaking process. The film industry continuously works to improve safety protocols to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.

Mishaps in Movie and Television Show Filming With Grips and Actors, Daredevils

Movie and television show filming can be a physically demanding and sometimes hazardous process involving various crew members, including grips and actors. While safety protocols and precautions are put in place to minimize risks, accidents and injuries can still occur on set.

Some of the most common film set accidents include:

  • Boat Accidents
  • Helicopter or Plane accidents
  • Falling objects
  • Equipment or props and crushing injuries.

Here are some examples of filming injuries involving grips and actors:

  • Lack of Communication: Miscommunication between crew members and actors can result in unsafe actions or misunderstandings, leading to accidents.
  • Stunt Mishaps: Stunt sequences often involve high-risk actions like jumps, falls, and fight scenes. Even with professional stunt coordinators and safety measures, there is always a risk of injuries. During these intense sequences, actors and stunt performers can suffer broken bones, sprains, or concussions.
  • Fatigue and Long Hours: The demanding schedules of film productions can lead to fatigue, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Inadequate Training: Insufficient training for stunt performers, crew members, or actors involved in physical scenes can lead to accidents.
  • Equipment Malfunctions: Grips, who are responsible for handling and setting up equipment, may encounter accidents involving heavy machinery, cameras, lighting rigs, or props. Mishandling or malfunctions can lead to injuries such as cuts, bruises, or more severe harm. Malfunctioning equipment can cause accidents and injuries to crew members and actors.
  • Unsafe Set Conditions: Sets can be complex, with numerous props, cables, and structures. Poorly maintained or cluttered sets can lead to slips, trips, and falls, especially with Westerns and dummy guns that fire blanks.
  • Slips and Falls: Film sets can be busy and chaotic environments, and slips or trips can occur, resulting in injuries for both grips and actors when they fall on the ground. Uneven terrain, cables, or spills can contribute to these fall accidents.
  • Special Effects Incidents: Special effects, such as pyrotechnics or explosions, add excitement to movie scenes. However, if not managed correctly, they can lead to burns, eye injuries, or other harm to the crew and actors involved.
  • Car and Motorcycle Stunts: Filming scenes involving a spin in the modified vehicle can pose risks, particularly during high-speed chases or crashes. Transportation collisions or losing control of vehicles like a motorcycle can result in severe injuries or incidence of wrongful death.
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries: Actors and grips can suffer from repetitive motion injuries due to performing the same actions repeatedly over extended periods.
  • Weather-Related Injuries: Outdoor filming exposes the crew and actors to weather elements. Extreme heat, cold, rain, or slippery surfaces can lead to accidents or discomfort. It is improper for the producer to expose workers to this without proper protection from poor weather.
  • Rushed Filming: Tight workplace deadlines and pressure to complete scenes quickly can compromise safety precautions. If someone dies, this short length deadline for completion could be a reason.
  • Falls from Heights: Filming often requires shooting from elevated positions, and falls can occur if safety measures are not followed.
  • Makeup and Prosthetic Mishaps: The application of makeup, prosthetics, or special effects can lead to allergic reactions or other complications.

It’s essential for film productions to prioritize safety and adhere to industry guidelines and regulations. Stunt coordinators, safety experts, and medical professionals are often on set to minimize risks and respond quickly to injuries. Additionally, actors and grips are encouraged to communicate any concerns or discomfort to ensure a safe working environment.

Major Film and Movie Set Studios We Can Sue For Injuries

If you sustain injuries on a film or movie set due to negligence or unsafe conditions, you may potentially have grounds to sue various entities involved. Some major film and movie set studios where injuries could occur include:

  1. Warner Bros. Studios
  2. Universal Studios
  3. Paramount Pictures
  4. Walt Disney Studios
  5. 20th Century Studios
  6. Sony Pictures Studios
  7. MGM Studios
  8. Lionsgate Films
  9. New Line Cinema
  10. Columbia Pictures.

It’s vital to understand that the liability for injuries on a film set can be complex and may involve multiple parties, such as the studio, production company, equipment suppliers, and others. The specific circumstances of each case will determine who may be held responsible for the injuries sustained.

Suppose you find yourself injured on a film or movie set. In that case, seeking legal advice from a qualified personal injury attorney with experience in handling entertainment industry-related cases is crucial. They can help assess your situation, investigate the incident, and determine the parties that may be liable for your injuries.

Types of Film Industry Workers Comp Injuries

In the film industry, there are various types of workers’ compensation injuries that workers may experience due to the nature of their job. Some common types of workers’ comp injuries that can occur in the film industry include:

  1. Repetitive Motion Injuries: Film industry workers often perform repetitive tasks, such as lifting heavy equipment or using cameras and tools, which can result in repetitive motion injuries like strains and tendinitis.
  2. Back and Neck Injuries: Carrying heavy equipment, standing for long hours, or maintaining awkward positions during shoots can cause back and neck injuries.
  3. Cuts, Bruises, and Burns: Workers in the film industry may suffer cuts or bruises from handling equipment or suffer burns from lighting fixtures or other hot objects.
  4. Electrical Shock Injuries: Electricians and workers dealing with lighting setups are at risk of electrical shock injuries.
  5. Hearing and Vision Problems: Exposure to loud noises or bright lights on set can cause hearing or vision issues.
  6. Respiratory Problems: Workers may be exposed to dust, fumes, or hazardous materials, leading to respiratory issues over time.
  7. Psychological Trauma: Long and intense working hours, high-pressure environments, and witnessing accidents or injuries can lead to psychological trauma for some film industry workers.

It’s important for film industry workers to be aware of their rights to workers’ compensation if they suffer from any work-related injuries or illnesses. Workers can file a claim to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation services if injured. Seeking legal advice from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is advisable to ensure that their rights are protected and they receive fair compensation for their injuries.

Do I File for Workers Compensation, and How Do I File a Claim?

it’s crucial for cast and crew members working on any film shoot, regardless of the budget, to inquire about workers’ compensation coverage and general liability insurance. Having adequate insurance coverage is essential for protecting the well-being and rights of everyone involved in production.

Workers’ compensation provides financial protection and support to employees or workers who may suffer injuries or illnesses while on the job. It covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs that may arise from work-related incidents. On the other hand, general liability insurance protects against third-party claims for property damage or bodily injury caused by the production. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you’ve suffered a work-related injury or illness in the film industry. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides medical and wage replacement benefits to injured or ill employees while performing their job duties.

To file a workers’ compensation claim, follow these general steps:

  1. Notify Your Employer: Report your injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible. In many states, there are specific time limits for reporting work-related injuries, so informing your employer promptly is essential.
  2. Seek Medical Attention: Get medical attention from an approved medical provider for your injury or illness. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover the cost of necessary medical treatment.
  3. Complete a Claim Form: Your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier will provide you with the necessary claim forms. Fill out the claim form accurately and thoroughly, providing details about the incident, your injury, and how it occurred.
  4. Submit the Claim Form: Submit the completed claim form to your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Keep a copy of the form for your records.
  5. Cooperate with Investigations: Your employer’s insurance carrier may conduct an investigation into your claim. Cooperate fully with their inquiries and provide any requested information or documentation.
  6. Receive Benefits: If your claim is approved, you may be eligible for various workers’ compensation benefits, such as medical treatment coverage, temporary or permanent disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and mileage reimbursement for travel related to medical appointments.
  7. Follow Medical Advice: Follow your medical provider’s treatment plan and attend all required medical appointments.
  8. Return to Work: Once you have recovered sufficiently, your medical provider may clear you to return to work. If your injury prevents you from performing your previous job, you may be eligible for modified work or vocational training.

It’s crucial to note that the workers’ compensation process can vary depending on your state, and specific rules and procedures may apply to the film industry. To ensure you properly file your claim and understand your rights, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your interests.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Settlement and Get Paid Out on a Movie Studio Accident Case?

The time it takes to reach a settlement and receive payment for a movie studio accident case can vary widely depending on various factors. Some cases may be resolved relatively quickly, while others may take much longer.

Here are some factors that can impact the timeline:

  1. The severity of the Injury: The extent and severity of the injury sustained in the accident can significantly impact the timeline. More severe injuries may require extensive medical treatment and ongoing evaluations, which can prolong the process.
  2. Liability and Investigation: Determining liability in a movie studio accident can sometimes be complex, especially if multiple parties are involved. An investigation may be necessary to determine who is at fault and responsible for the accident.
  3. Negotiations and Settlement Discussions: After the initial investigation, there may be negotiations between the injured party’s legal representation and the insurance company or the movie studio’s legal team. These negotiations can take time, as both parties may need to exchange information and evidence to reach a fair settlement.
  4. Trial Preparation: If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, the case may proceed to trial. Trial preparation and court proceedings can add significant time to the overall process.
  5. Legal and Administrative Procedures: Various legal and administrative procedures are involved in handling a personal injury case. This can include filing paperwork, responding to motions, and adhering to court schedules, which can also contribute to the overall timeline.
  6. Cooperation from All Parties: The process can be smoother and faster when all parties involved cooperate and respond promptly to requests for information and documents.

Due to the complexity of some movie studio accident cases and the need for thorough investigation and negotiation, providing a specific timeframe for settlement and payment is challenging. It is not uncommon for cases to take several months or even years to reach a resolution. Additionally, the outcome of each case is unique, and the settlement amount will vary based on the circumstances and damages involved.

Suppose you have been injured in a movie studio accident. In that case, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case, guide you through the legal process, and work to secure the compensation you deserve is essential. They can provide more accurate information based on the specific details of your case and help expedite the process as much as possible.

Do I Have the Right to Sue For a Movie Set Injury?

Yes, in many cases, you have the right to sue for a movie set injury if your injury was the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct. As with any personal injury case, the ability to sue will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident and the applicable laws in your jurisdiction. Suppose you were injured on a movie set due to the negligence of a studio, production company, director, stunt coordinator, fellow actor, or any other party involved in the production. In that case, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. Negligence can include actions or omissions that create an unsafe environment, failure to provide proper safety measures or equipment, inadequate training, or any other breach of duty of care that leads to your injury.

The movie industry often involves complex contracts, insurance policies, and liability agreements. As a result, the process of suing for a movie set injury can be more intricate compared to other personal injury cases. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Ehline Law Firm to learn more. A skilled attorney with years of experience will assess your case, investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident, and help you understand your legal options.

Keep in mind that there may be specific deadlines, known as statutes of limitations, for filing a personal injury lawsuit in your jurisdiction. You may lose your right to pursue a claim if you miss the applicable deadline. Therefore, seeking legal advice promptly after the accident is crucial to protect your rights and explore potential compensation for your injuries and damages.

Damages for Injuries Sustained on a Movie Set For Negligence and Dangerous Stunts?

If you suffer a movie set injury due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct, you may be entitled to various types of damages to compensate you for your losses. The specific damages you can recover will depend on the circumstances of your case and the laws in your jurisdiction.

Generally, the following are common types of damages that may be available in a movie set injury claim:

  1. Medical Expenses: You can seek compensation for the cost of medical treatment related to your injury, including hospital bills, doctor’s fees, surgery expenses, prescription medications, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care.
  2. Lost Wages: If your injury causes you to miss work, you can claim compensation for lost wages and any potential loss of future earning capacity.
  3. Pain and Suffering: Damages for pain and suffering aim to compensate you for physical pain, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life caused by the injury.
  4. Emotional Distress: If the accident has led to significant emotional trauma, anxiety, or psychological distress, you may be entitled to damages for emotional suffering.
  5. Disability and Disfigurement: If your injury results in a permanent disability or disfigurement, you may be compensated for the lasting impact on your life and appearance.
  6. Property Damage: If any personal belongings were damaged in the accident, you may be eligible for reimbursement for the cost of repair or replacement.
  7. Punitive Damages: In some cases, if the responsible party’s conduct was particularly reckless or intentional, you may be awarded punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from similar behavior.

Most of all, movie set injury cases can be complex, involving multiple parties, insurance policies, and liability issues. To ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An injury attorney will assess the details of your case, gather evidence, and fight for your rights, guiding you through the legal process to pursue fair and just compensation for your injuries and damages.

Our Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

If you called around, you already know it’s hard to find the right lawyers in California who understand your precarious situation. Our serious injuries have the compassion, experience, and bankroll to win your set injury case. We have assisted thousands of injury victims in difficult, hard-to-win cases and can help you too! We will offer you a free consultation 24/7, 365 a year. Feel free to call us at (213) 596-9642 or use our online contact us form before you blow the statute of limitations in your case.


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Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients.
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Michael Ehline

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