Florida is home to some of the best amusement parks in the world. Whether you’re taking the family to the Magic Kingdom or taking in the wonders of Hogwarts at Universal Studios, amusement parks can provide fun for every age. Unfortunately, people can and do become injured at these parks. When your family fun day turns into an emergency room nightmare, do you have legal options? Are amusement parks responsible for injuries you sustain on their grounds? The answer will depend on the unique circumstances surrounding your accident.
Are Amusement Park Injuries Common?
Injuries at amusement parks are more common than you might think. An average of 8,800 people visit emergency rooms for injuries involving an amusement park ride each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Children under the age of 14 are most likely to experience injury, representing about half of all ER visits. Between 1987 and 2000, 51 people lost their lives on amusement park rides, with roller coasters and whirling rides being the biggest culprits.
Types of Amusement Park Injuries
Some types of amusement park injuries are more common than others. These include:
- Head, neck, and back injuries, particularly from whiplash
- Traumatic brain injury from G-force or objects hitting a rider’s head
- Brain aneurysm
- Drowning on water rides
- Broken bones, particularly from inflatable amusements
Amusement park rides also have a set of more predictable causes, which may include:
- Mechanical failures – For example, a seat belt may malfunction and eject a rider.
- Improper operation – A ride’s operator may stop the ride in midcycle or fail to check seatbelts for safety.
- Passenger failure to follow instructions – Sometimes, a passenger may intentionally unlock restraints or rock a car, leading to injury.
- Inherent dangerous nature of the ride – At times, the design or nature of a ride may present an inherent danger of injury.
Amusement Park Injuries and Premise Liability Law
Like all property owners, amusement park owners owe their visitors a duty of care. In other words, they must adequately maintain their rides and rectify any foreseeable risk of injury. You may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit if the following apply:
- The amusement park owed you a duty of care. Under Florida law, amusement park guests are “invitees” and enjoy the highest level of protection.
- They breached that duty. An amusement park company may breach its duty of care when employees know or should have known about an unsafe or defective condition on the grounds but failed to fix it. An example might include failing to conduct safety checks that leads to a rider being ejected from a car.
- That breach of duty led to injury.
- You incurred financial damages as a result (medical bills or lost wages).
There are many situations in which negligence might occur in an amusement park. If you think you may have grounds for a personal injury suit, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Florida law allows four years for a victim to bring a lawsuit against a theme park, but it’s in your best interest to start the process as soon as possible. For additional guidance, speak with a personal injury attorney.