As the Popularity of Ziplining Increases, So Due the Injuries
Taking part in lots of outdoor activities is one of the hallmarks of summer for many families, but certain activities bring a greater risk for injury compared to others. When avoidable injuries do occur, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim for negligence to recover compensation. Florida, being one of the top tourist destinations in the country, offers visitors and residents alike a large variety of attractions to visit. Large amusement parks are at the top of many families’ lists, and a lot of them are adding ziplining as its popularity grows nationwide. In addition, private operators are running independent companies that offer only ziplining, looking to get in on this relatively new amusement activity. Ziplining may appear to be safe, but serious injuries have occurred both in Florida and around the world, including death and permanent paralysis. Owners and operators of ziplining companies have a legal responsibility to keep the ride in proper working order and to only allow a person to use the ride if the conditions are right and proper personnel are present. Unfortunately, injuries from amusement rides generally are more common than many people think, and government regulation of this industry is spotty at best. A discussion of some of the issues that can lead to injuries on ziplines, and amusement rides in general, as well as a few legal issues prevalent in zipline injuries, will follow below.
Equipment and Personnel Issues that Lead to Injury
The equipment needed to set up a ziplining outfit is relatively inexpensive and simple compared to most amusement attractions, which means more people operating these businesses without experience in amusement rides, including the maintenance and training necessary to protect customers. Most injuries arise from two main issues – operator error and equipment failure. In cases of injuries due to negligence, some of the common catalysts for harm are:
- personnel that are untrained, overworked or understaffed;
- defective or poorly maintained equipment; and
- poorly maintained grounds, which often appears as slippery platforms, debris around the entrance and exit, and tree branches that intersect with the zipline path.
Zipline companies have a legal duty to inspect the equipment and grounds for hazards that could injure customers, and failing to do so opens them up to legal liability in the event of an injury. Further, if the equipment is found to be defective, an injured party may also be able to sue the equipment manufacturer under a product liability claim (a manufacturer is not allowed to put dangerous products onto the market).
Legal Issues with Zipline Injuries
Ziplining is treated by many operators as a dangerous activity similar to skydiving, parasailing or hang gliding. Typically, when someone chooses to participate in these kinds of activities, he/she is required to sign a pre-injury release, which is a document that says the participant is releasing the owner/operator from legal liability if an injury is caused. It is possible to get courts to invalidate such agreements, but Florida courts tend toward upholding them. Consequently, working with an experienced personal injury attorney is important to an injured party’s chances of convincing a court to allow a personal injury case to proceed. Further, many zipline companies, due to the involvement of a significant number of small operators, do not carry liability insurance. Liability insurance is usually the entity that actually pays the compensation in a lawsuit, but even without this coverage, there are additional options for enforcing a judgment an attorney can use to collect compensation.
Call for Help
The point of amusement rides is to give participants the opportunity to experience a thrill in a safe and controlled environment. If you were seriously injured on an amusement party ride, talk to an attorney about your right to sue. Companies must keep their businesses safe for their customers, and the Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado will fight to get you the compensation you deserve if these necessary precautions did not happen. Contact us today for a free consultation.