Amusement Park Fun Tempered by Risk of Injury
As the school year ends and summer approaches, thoughts of family vacations and summer activities begin to occupy the minds of all parents. Florida, being a family destination, offers a lot of options for child-friendly activities, and is especially known for the substantial number of amusement parks that dot the state. Amusement parks are undeniably exciting and entertaining, but with this fun comes a real risk of injury and/or death. Many serious injuries, some leading to personal injury lawsuits, occur every year, and should be taken into consideration when visiting these venues. A recent review of Disney’s quarterly report for the first part of 2017 reveals 11 major injuries and illnesses occurred to park goers, and one man died after riding a roller coaster. This information shows that injuries can and do happen, so visitors need to use common sense and take precautions when necessary. Of course, most visitors enter and leave amusement parks with nothing other than fond memories, but for those unlucky few who are injured, knowing the available legal options is important.
Who Is Legally Responsible for an Injury?
Amusement park operators, like all other property owners, are legally obligated to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn visitors of potential hazards. If an injury occurs that the park operator could have prevented through routine inspection or taking action to fix a dangerous condition within a reasonable time, the amusement park may be liable for compensating the injured party. In addition to the operator, depending on the circumstances of the accident, the manufacturer of a ride, a concession stand owner, or several other companies may be potentially responsible for an accident.
In addition to the legal duty to keep the premises safe, amusement parks are also bound by state safety regulations that govern how these entities must construct and operate rides. Evidence that these regulations were violated goes a long way to proving the amusement park was negligent, which is the legal claim underlying most personal injury suits.
Florida limits how long a person has to file a lawsuit against a property owner for an injury. The time limit, referred to as the statute of limitations, is four years from the date of the injury. If no legal action is taken at the end of this is period, the right to sue is lost. This window of limited opportunity is the reason why an injured party should consult with a personal injury as soon as possible, and not wait until the full extent of the damage is known.
Frequent Causes of Injuries at Amusement Parks
If the premises are not kept safe, visitors face injury from a number of sources, including:
- slips and falls around water rides on floors without proper traction and/or maintenance to keep water from pooling;
- broken amusement rides from issues such as loose bolts, malfunctioning seatbelts/lap bars, or wheels being disconnected from the track; and
- improperly trained and/or supervised ride operators that cause abrupt stops, jerking, cars getting stuck, or stopping the ride short of the disembarking platform.
Even heeding all posted precautions and following all the directions provided by park staff cannot keep a visitor safe from several of the issues listed above. Consequently, visitors must rely to a great extent on the responsiveness of park operators to address potential safety issues. This reality is why the law holds property owners responsible if something does go wrong, and imposes liability when injuries occur as a result.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you suffered an injury on someone else’s property, and believe it could have been prevented, talk to a personal injury attorney about your options. Do not assume it was a simple unfortunate accident, and no one bears responsibility. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado handles personal injury cases involving negligent property owners. Contact us today to learn how they can help you.