Your Rights After a Theme Park Accident
Amusement parks are big attractions that draw in huge crowds. The main attractions at these parks are the spine-tingling thrills of roller coasters and other theme park rides. Many locations also have a water park, which introduces a range of other water-based rides for extreme fun. However, whether you prefer tall coasters or wet and wild log rides, there is always a risk of a theme park accident that comes along with these attractions. However, just because it is present, it does not mean the theme park can wash its hands of all liability.
There are certainly situations every year where a park does not do its part to ensure guest safety. If you find yourself in the position where you suffer an injury due to no fault of your own, you could have a personal injury claim for your theme park accident.
Common Amusement Park Injuries
Accidents at theme parks can range from minor to severe. They can involve one person or a whole crowd of people. The potential for injuries ranges from bruises and bumps to spinal injuries.
You could suffer an injury anywhere in the park. It doesn’t have to be ride-related, but those injuries associated with rides are typically the most severe. Medical professionals refer to the injuries as similar to those you would experience in a car accident:
- Broken bones
- Brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
There are also drowning risks in water parks and other types of injuries, such as falls due to uneven walkways or slippery surfaces.
Causes of Injuries
What leads to an injury at an amusement park depends on the type of injury. Most often, ride-related injuries can occur due to improper maintenance, a lack of routine inspections and a failure to properly train staff in the operation and safety of attractions.
Injuries may also result from reckless behavior. These can occur on or off of attractions. Slip and falls are another common issue.
Finally, some injuries are just part of the inherent danger that comes from such attractions. For example, a roller coast will often jostle you around, so you could experience bruising or general soreness from being whipped around. This is something that you accept as a possible outcome of participating in this type of activity.
There are three main claims that you can bring against a theme park or associated entity for injuries you sustain:
- Product liability
- Premises liability
Which type of case you make depends on the amusement park accident situation and details of the incident. In any case, you will need to show the amusement park’s actions led to the accident and your injury.
Not every case is valid. If you had some responsibility or if your injuries are due to the inherent risk, then a court may not accept your claim.
Negligence usually stems from someone’s lack of responsibility or careless actions. Because the amusement park is responsible for the actions of its employees, if your theme park accident injury is a result of an employee not doing his or her job correctly, then you have a negligence claim.
To prove negligence, you have to show the park had a duty to provide you with safety and that it did not hold up that duty and so you suffered an injury. Types of negligence claims might include:
- Lack of proper signs
- Not maintaining equipment
- Employee not properly operating rides or providing proper instructions to riders
Product liability is a claim you would generally make against the manufacturer of a ride because your injury resulted from something being wrong with the attraction. It might be a defect of some type or a structural issue with the ride.
You will have to prove that the attraction was defective, which led to your injury. For example, if the lap bar fails to lock and it is not due to maintenance issues but a defect in that particular part, then you might have a product liability claim against the ride manufacturer.
Premises liability is the amusement park’s responsibility for the safety of people on its property. Any type of theme park accident or injury that occurs on the property would fall under premises liability, such as slip and falls.
Often with theme park accident situations, negligence and premises liability overlap. Premises liability will include all of the attractions in a park and the general safety of the grounds.
You have to show that you were legally on the property to bring this type of claim.
An amusement park can provide a few defenses to any personal injury claims you make. There are two that often work the best:
- Assumption of risk
- Rider non-compliance with rules
Assumption of Risk
You know there is an inherent danger to amusement park attractions. There are warning signs and other information at each ride that explains the potential risks. By riding it, you agree to assume some of the risks.
This defense would work if your claim was solely for injuries that are a natural result of the ride and that people normally might experience. It would not hold up for injuries that result from other issues with the ride.
This defense is not allowable in every state. In the states that do allow it, the park has to show you assumed the risk and the general risk was the cause of the injury.
Rider Non-Compliance With Rules
Every theme park has rules. Most will have a list of rules for each specific ride. When you purchase your ticket, you agree to follow the rules or become liable for your own actions.
If you fail to follow the rules, the amusement park can use that as a defense. For example, if you climb over a fence to get into an off-limits area despite signs explaining the risks and you suffer an injury, the park may have a strong defense against liability.
You would have to disobey the rules and the park would have to prove your injury is due to breaking the rules to make this defense work. A disclaimer on the ticket is usually not enough and the court will not accept it as a defense.
An Attorney’s Assistance
Theme parks will aggressively defend themselves against injury claims. You need to have someone on your side who will work just as hard to prove your case. Since there is a lot of potential for the park to deny liability, you have to put together a solid case that shows the court the roller coaster accident was the responsibility of the park and not due to something you did wrong.
Your attorney can assist you with making claims for a range of damages:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Scars and disfigurement
- Emotional pain
- Out-of-pocket costs
What the court awards you depends on the type of injury, severity and financial damage that resulted from your accident. It also will depend on how well you present your case, which is why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your team.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
If you’ve been in a theme park accident, then you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!