Your Right to Sue After an Orlando Theme Park Accident
Central Florida theme parks are favorite destinations for family vacations, school trips and conventions, evidenced by the tens of millions of people who buy tickets to Florida parks every year. But if you or a family member has been hurt, how does the legalese on the back of your ticket affect your ability to seek financial compensation?
Theme park tickets include disclaimers to warn patrons of the perils they could face on the premises — whether on rides or in other attractions — even if their parks are generally safe. Disclaimers also attempt to limit liability by declaring that parks are not responsible for injuries sustained by people who ignore warnings or otherwise engage in improper conduct. There are also posted warnings, such as signs stating that people with high blood pressure or heart problems should not go on a certain ride. This is based on the legal doctrine of assumption of risk: that those who engage in activities known to be hazardous cannot claim their injuries were the result of another person’s negligence.
Unfortunately, injuries occur at Orlando theme parks for a host of reasons, ranging from visitors falling ill to getting hurt on rides through no fault of their own. At Walt Disney World in 2018, about two dozen people experienced some kind of injury or illness while visiting one of the parks, such as a teenager who hit his head after falling off a water ride, a man who fractured his ankle while going down a slide and, most tragically, a 70-year-old who man who died from a heart attack in a wave pool.
Despite ticket disclaimers and posted warnings, amusement park owners have a responsibility to ensure their rides and other attractions are safe. This means seeing that they are regularly inspected, that employees are properly trained in operating them and that patrons are furnished with proper safety equipment and instructions for use. There is also a duty of care imposed on designers, manufacturers and suppliers of rides and their component parts to be sure they are free of defects.
Lawyers representing those injured at parks may bring negligence or product liability claims, or both. Parks may be liable for resulting injuries or may share liability with another party, such as a designer, builder or manufacturer. Structural defects in a ride or any of its components — such as a lap bar not latching properly — may contribute to a mishap. A negligence claim may arise from failures on the part of the park to maintain the facilities, provide adequate warnings and instructions, give proper training to employees or otherwise to observe best practices in park operations. A ride that stops abruptly, causing a guest to suffer a head or neck injury, may be due to a combination of fault factors. Inspectors may be liable for failing to spot a dangerous condition that leads to an accident.
While a disclaimer or other form of warning is taken into account in determining a theme park’s potential negligence, it does not mean your claim is barred. The questions to be resolved in such cases are whether the park violated reasonable standards of care and whether guests were hurt as a result. Even the biggest theme parks make mistakes, and resulting injuries can be severe. Depending on the circumstances, you may have a cause of action to recover money damages for your injuries.
At Largey Law Firm, we are well-versed in theme park accident litigation. If you or a family member were injured on a ride or attraction in Orlando or elsewhere in Central Florida, call us at 352.508.1485 or contact us online for a free consultation at any of our offices in Clermont, Tavares and Inverness.