Theme parks are a popular outing for a day of family fun, especially in Central Florida. However, with the excitement and adventure of theme parks also comes the risk of injury. When a visitor is injured at a theme park, there are a number of possible legal claims which may be available. These potential claims depend on several factors that dictate the nature of the injury. Theme park accident lawsuits will typically operate under the legal concept of premises liability.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a area of law stating that the owners or operators of a specific area are responsible for keeping the area reasonably safe for others. When responsible parties overlook or neglect a safety issue that causes harm, they may be legally liable for the injuries or damage that occurs as a result. This principle is applied to theme parks. By providing a theme park to the public, the owners and operators accept a certain level of social responsibility to keep the theme park reasonably free of safety hazards and risks.
Types of Theme Park Claims
Under the law of premises liability, there are two main causes of action that are typically made by theme park accident victims. These causes of action are negligence and product liability. Negligence is defined as the failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation. Product liability is liability for any damages or injuries suffered by a buyer, user, or bystander as a result of a defective product. In the context of a theme park, the owners or operators of property such as rides are responsible for any defects or malfunctions that led to a visitor’s injury.
Theme Park Negligence
Negligence covers issues of carelessness or inattention on the part of theme park’s owners, operators, or employees. Negligence may be an issue when these parties affirmatively do something that leads to harm, or fail to do something that may have prevented harm. Negligence applies to any individual who represents the theme park, as the owners and operators and liable for the actions of their employees.
Examples of theme park negligence may include:
- Failure to post clear warning signs of potential risks
- Failure to keep and maintain the theme park in a reasonably safe condition
- Failure to provide proper training to ride operators
- Failure to properly maintain equipment and rides
- Failure to provide regular safety inspections of rides
- Providing riders with improper instructions
In some cases, the visitor’s injury may be caused by defective rides or a ride component as opposed to maintenance or operation by staff. For example, a properly maintained safety belt may experience a malfunction that causes a rider to fall out of the rollercoaster car. Rides or parts may also experience design defects. In these cases, the part itself operates as intended, but design flaws still lead to injury. In product liability cases, the manufacturer of the ride or part may be held legally liable for the injury.