Amusement parks and theme parks are by definition supposed to be fun for all and a pleasant distraction from life. As with many things in life, however, going to an amusement park is not without risks of injury. It is difficult to quantify the risk of amusement park and theme park rides because there is no single, central clearing house that collates such statistics, such as exists for traffic accidents. However, in Florida, injuries happen regularly on the premises of amusement parks for a variety of reasons.
The Florida State Department of Agriculture oversees some amusement park safety, but only for smaller, traveling carnivals. Larger theme parks are not legally mandated to have their equipment inspected by a neutral third party, with the threat of sanctions for failure to adhere to basic safety features. There is some limited federal oversight by the Federal Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), but that agency generally gets involved only after an accident occurs in order to rectify the problem and prevent further injuries. That means that even one simple shortcut employed by a theme park manager or employee can potentially mean life-altering injuries for you or your child.
Legal Liability for Amusement Parks and Theme Parks
There are three general grounds for which an injured party can recover from an injury sustained at an amusement park or theme park:
- Simple negligence
- Premises liability actions
- Products liability
The following is a brief overview of each of these causes of action stemming from amusement park accidents and injuries.
Negligence at Amusement Parks and Theme Parks
As for negligence, it is a general, all-encompassing legal principle that creates an incentive for park operators to make sure that they take safety into account when making decisions. You can bring an action based on negligence when a park owner fails to act with the proper standard of care owed to guests. One example of negligence is the failure of a park owner or operator to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding assembly, operation, inspection, or maintenance of a particular ride. Another common form of negligence in an amusement park is the failure to warn potential riders of risks associated with certain rides for riders who are too small, who have medical conditions, or who may be pregnant.
Premises Liability of Amusement Park and Theme Park Owners
Premises liability is another ground for an injured party to sue an amusement park owner. Simply put, park owners must keep their grounds in good repair. Not only should there not be any obvious or patent defects, but there should not be any hidden or latent defects for patrons who come to the park for a day with the family. The property must be safe for the advertised activities that people come to the park for. For example, letting people walk through a zoo that has a weak, low wall for lions or bears to jump over would be an obvious danger and could lead to a premises liability lawsuit. However, most premises liability claims involve slip and falls or similar accidents.
Product Liability at Amusement Parks and Theme Parks
The final ground for recovery by an injured party is a products liability action. Very simply, a manufacturer must ensure that they make a product that is safe for its intended and foreseeable usage by patrons. If a ride was designed or manufactured with defects, the manufacturer may be held liable if a malfunction occurs and injures patrons due to that defect.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Premises Liability Attorney
Whether you or a loved one was injured on a roller coaster at a small traveling carnival or suffered a slip and fall at a large theme park, you should always look into your legal rights as soon as possible to learn whether you may hold the company liable for your losses. The team at the Law Office of Joseph J. LoRusso, PA is dedicated to those injured at amusement parks or theme parks or in any type of accident. Consultations are always free, so please call us directly at 954-715-3260 or contact us here.