Amusement parks offer guests fun, adrenaline-pumping rides, fantastic sights and much more. Whether you are visiting a county fair, state fair, carnival, theme park, amusement park or even a water park, no element of surprise should include injury erupting from reckless behavior. Unfortunately, when carelessness is blended in with excitement, the outcome can be anything but joyous resulting in serious personal injury and even wrongful death. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, 300 million people go to amusement parks each year. It is estimated that the chance of an injury happening in a theme park setting is 1 in 9 million.
Guest safety in any amusement park setting should always come first and be at the top of the establishment’s list of priorities. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and when careless actions or efforts are carried out by owners or employees, people get hurt. Some common negligence issues that lead to injuries include:
- Dimly lit areas like parking lots where assaults can take place
- Unlocked doors or gates that can permit access to dangerous areas
- Poorly maintained rides or buildings
- Ride operators under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Defects in rides
- Slippery surface areas
- Equipment or other articles that obstruct walkways
Tampa, Orlando, Weeki Wachee and other parts of Florida have some magnificent theme parks that are famous throughout the country. Popular theme parks like these are required to have routine safety inspections and highly trained employees operating the rides. However, even if these safety precautions are performed regularly and properly, accidents can still happen. Injuries at theme parks can be lethal due to extreme heights and momentous speeds reached within seconds flat.
Many amusement park accidents take place on a more local level, at county or state fairs and short-term festivals and carnivals. The safety measures for small-scale events like these are not as strict as large and permanent parks. Rides and stations are set up and taken down repeatedly and transported across the country every few days or weeks. Sometimes the storage process of these rides can be inadequate. These rides are usually not maintained properly, overused and outdated. It is not uncommon for these rides to be improperly set up, which can make them a full-on danger zone for paying customers.
The staff at these local events can also be crookedly constructed. Many times they are not fully aware or trained at handling such intricate structures. When this is the case, serious unfortunate accidents can occur. All it takes is one missing screw or an untrained employee to create a catastrophic injury that can change your life forever.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) used to track the number of deaths due to a theme park or carnival rides (52 deaths between 1990 and 2004), but they no longer collect mortality data. They did report that, in 2011, over 37,000 people were sent to emergency rooms. Of those, approximately 36,000 were released and a little over 1,000 were admitted to the hospital. The CPSC regulates portable rides such as the ones that you see at county fairs and carnivals, but they have nothing to do with standard fixed rides such as the ones found at Disney World, Universal Studios or Busch Gardens.
When a wrongful death or amusement park injury occurs, and that injury occurs on a ride, it will be generally due to improper ride maintenance, inspection or a failure to warn. A theme-park injury may originate with a ride manufacturer’s product defect – which would give rise to a product liability claim.
However, plenty of people are injured at theme parks or carnivals and those injuries have nothing to do with the actual rides. The owner/manager of the park has an obligation to maintain the general premises in a safe condition. Inadequate security, broken stairs or handrails, uneven pavement, insufficient lighting in the parking lot may also be evidence of general negligence that would give rise to a premises liability claim. After recent discoveries of unsatisfactory conditions with the water quality at one Florida Panhandle waterpark which caused a patron to get an E. Coli infection, it is always a good idea to review up to date tests and certifications before riding.
Most theme park accidents deal with large corporations, sometimes one claim can involve several different companies. At Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith, PLLC, we are prepared to go to bat against major corporations; we will not cower from scare tactics enlisted by these corporations to get you to take a low settlement. It is important to know that swift settlement offers are usually not in your best interest, however, all cases are unique. Generally speaking, companies will try and dissuade you from pursuing your legal matters by convincing you that you will be unsuccessful against them. This is simply an effort to limit their product liability exposure. Whether you, or someone you know, is injured at any fairs, carnivals, or theme parks in Florida, call the injury lawyers at Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith, for a free consultation.