Tampa Amusement Park Accident Lawyer
In 2019, more than 20.9 million people visited Disney World in Orlando. Among all of Disney’s theme parks, they received 156 million visitors, making them by far the most-visited theme parks in the United States. This makes Florida the number one destination for family amusement fun.
While many amusement parks are subject to countless safety regulations and numerous risk management protocols, accidents at Florida amusement parks still happen. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) oversees ride inspections for fairs, carnivals, and amusement centers with less than 1,000 employees. However, larger parks have their certified inspectors who report to FDACS to be issued an annual permit.
Given that the amusement industry is a multi-billion dollar a year market, accurate reporting of injuries and deaths should be at the forefront of the industry. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the case. The International Association for Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is a global association for the amusement industry, and they actively lobby against regulations for the amusement park industry. The exact numbers for injuries sustained at stationary amusement parks like Disney World can be a little murky due to a lack of federal and state oversight on the industry, thanks in part to the lobbying efforts of the IAAPA.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed at an amusement park, you have rights and deserve to have your voice heard. Under Florida law, safety standards for amusement parks require that the park carry $1 million of insurance per occurrence. At Darrigo & Diaz, our personal injury attorneys will fight for your rights to compensation to cover medical bills and other damages resulting from amusement parks’ negligence.
Who is Most Likely to be Injured at an Amusement Park?
While amusement parks are fun for all ages, kids are by far the most frequent visitors. Limited available data from the National Consumer Product Safety Commission suggest that, on average, there were more than 27,000 children who were injured on amusement rides in 2019. The vast majority of injuries occurred in children ages 5-14 years old.
What are the Most Common Types of Amusement Park Injuries?
The most common injuries at amusement parks include:
- Soft tissue injuries of the head, neck, and back
- Strokes from soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Cuts, bruises, and broken bones
- Drowning at water-themed parks
- Death from being thrown off rides at intense speeds
What are the Most Common Causes of Injuries at Amusement Parks?
- Mechanical issues and failure — Mechanical failure of components of a ride can be due to either product defect or failure of management to maintain the ride properly.
- Negligence from the ride operator — The ride operator may not secure a belt or harness, be inattentive to problems, or operate the ride at unsafe speeds.
- Passenger error — A passenger may ignore safety warnings and do something they shouldn’t, such as rocking a ride, unfastening a safety harness, or other reckless acts.
- The ride’s features — Some rides inspire thrills because of the physics involved. Rides that spin around quickly can cause injuries due to centrifugal force, leading to extreme dizziness and even cerebral hemorrhages. Similarly, some rides whip passengers around with jerking motions, leading to soft tissue injuries.
I was Injured at an Amusement Park. Can I Sue?
There are numerous types of claims that can be brought against an amusement park, but the two most common are personal injury from negligence and liability from a defective product. There are different criteria for proving responsibility with each type of case, and some cases may even include both negligence and product liability.
Injuries Resulting From Negligence of Amusement Park Employees
The amusement park is responsible for proper training and monitoring of its employee’s performance. If an employee acts negligently, you can bring your case against the park. Common examples of negligence by amusement park employees include:
- Insufficient signage or failure to warn patrons of the rides that people with certain health conditions should not ride or that the ride may involve risks.
- They were inadequately training employees on safety procedures, passenger screening, and instruction, or how to operate the rides safely.
- Failure to properly maintain ride equipment, food preparation equipment, infrastructure, or other areas of the park where visitors may potentially be harmed.
- Failure to routinely and properly inspect rides and equipment.
Amusement Park Injuries Resulting from Product Liability
Sometimes, amusement park injuries are not the result of negligence by the park or its employees. Instead, defective products and ride components that are poorly designed or shoddily produced are responsible for injuries to riders and patrons. In this case, you would bring a claim against the ride or component manufacturer and that the injuries could have been prevented if not for the defective parts.
How Will an Amusement Park try to Defend Against My Claim?
Amusement parks are inherently a high-risk industry. To help protect themselves against claims of injuries, they will try to cover as many bases as possible. Sometimes, their risk-management strategy works, but other times, it will not. Some of the most common ways it may try to defend itself against your claim include:
You should have assumed you were at risk — This legal tactic is called the “assumption of risk.” When you participate in an activity you should reasonably understand to be dangerous, you have taken on the risk. For example, if you get on a slingshot ride that hurls you 100 feet into the air, you should have known that there is a risk the cable may break, sending you flying to your death.
While this is not a catchall defense, in Florida, it may affect your case. There is a bit of a gray area here that your attorney can help better define. In general, for a rider to assume a risk, they must be appropriately informed about the dangers. So, if there is gross negligence on the part of the park or its employees, you could not have assumed risks you were unaware of. The argument could also be made that lack of governmental oversight and reporting on the dangers of injuries and fatalities is another way a patron could not have fully understood the risks associated with visiting the park.
Riders were not complying with safety rules — If the case involves an issue where the rider did not comply with safety rules, it will depend significantly on the details of non-compliance. For example, a child injured because they did not meet the height and weight requirements may still prove a park employee’s negligence for not correctly screening passengers. However, if a rider intentionally puts their arms or legs outside of the ride car after being explicitly warned not to, the park will not be found to be negligent.
Safety waivers and disclaimers — While the park tries to absolve itself of liability proactively, disclaimers (such as those printed on the ticket) and waivers don’t always provide the protection the park hopes for. This is especially true when the disclaimers are intentionally vague or posted in areas where a patron is unlikely to examine the disclaimer thoroughly. Similarly, if you signed a waiver, your attorney will be able to guide you as to whether the release is valid.
What do I do After an Amusement Park Injury?
The first step is to always immediately seek medical attention and keep any documentation of medical treatment you received. If possible, take pictures or video of the ride, and get the information of any witnesses. Take note of the details surrounding the amusement park accident while they are still fresh in your mind.
The next step is to contact an amusement park injury attorney immediately. Here at Darrigo & Diaz, we specialize in all manners of personal injury cases and have successfully represented clients since 1999. We are available to connect with you from the comfort of your home or hospital room by calling (813) 774-3341 to immediately discuss your case with an expert amusement park injury attorney or by setting up a complimentary consultation with us online.