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Pandemic-Related Changes In Annual Winter Light Festival Increase Risk of Personal Injuries In Portland

Since 2016, the Portland Winter Light Festival has helped to lift people’s spirits during the long winter months. Lasting several days, the festival features educational programs, performances, and other types of entertainment, alongside impressive art installations and lighting displays.

This year, the festival atmosphere had to be modified to accommodate ongoing COVID-19 concerns. Organizers instead opted for visual displays spread across the city. While the new set-up was appropriate for the pandemic, it resulted in increased personal injury risks.

Personal Injuries That Can Result From Outdoor Festivals

The annual Portland Winter Light Festival (PDXWLF) is held each February by the Willamette Light Brigade, a local non-profit arts organization responsible for lighting city bridges. The free festival takes up several city blocks and is an event that people of all ages look forward to.

This year, festival organizers came up with a different plan to prevent having masses of people congregating in one spot, in violation of COVID-19 restrictions. They spread the lighting displays throughout the city over the course of two weekends. While this reduced pandemic-related exposures, it created other risks.

Some displays are in close enough proximity to be accessible by walking or biking. However, to view the greatest number of exhibits, residents would need to drive. Considering the event takes place at night and creates significant distractions, the risks regarding personal injuries increased as a result. Among the most common include:

Injured At The Winter Light Festival​?

The Winter Light Festival was presented at night over the weekends of February 5-6, 12-13 2021. Unfortunately, these happen to be the times when personal injuries are more likely to happen. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), car, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents spike at night and over the weekends. Reckless behavior on the part of drivers increases the risks. This includes:

  • Aggressive driving, such as tailgating, improper passing, and failure to yield;
  • Distracted driving, which can involve taking pictures as well as talking on cell phones or sending texts;
  • Driving under the influence, which can involve alcohol, illegal drugs, or medications;
  • Running red lights and stop signs, which increases when drivers are distracted;
  • Speeding and going too fast for conditions, which not only increases accident risks but the severity of injuries.

While organizers of the Winter Festival cannot be held liable for injuries that occur due to the above, the drivers involved can. The same holds true in cases involving slips and falls. When property owners who host exhibits fail to maintain the premises, they can be held liable in a claim for damages when slip and fall accident victims suffer as a result.

Let Us Help You Today

At the Johnston Law Firm P.C., we help you get the compensation you need to recover when personal injuries happen. To discuss your rights in filing a claim, call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Portland personal injury attorneys online and request a consultation today.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.