Amusement parks are beloved institutions in the United States. Established, permanent sites like Disney World, Universal, and SeaWorld attract more than 300 million visitors a year, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
For the most part, Florida’s amusement parks are benefits to their communities and the state, offering thousands of jobs, abundant family entertainment, and a surprising amount of historical and environmental education.
The only drawback is that thousands of injuries also happen every year at our nation’s amusement parks. A 2013 research study conducted by the Ohio-based Nationwide Children’s Hospital determined that across the United States, from 1990 through 2010, more than 92,885 children under age 18 were taken to emergency rooms for amusement park-related injuries – more than 4,400 each year. If you or someone you love is injured at a Florida amusement park or another Florida attraction, speak immediately about your case with one of our Orlando personal injury attorneys.
An amusement park injury can be trivial or catastrophic and require costly medical treatment, but suing an amusement park for damages is not easy. Amusement parks know all about injury lawsuits, and the job of their attorneys is seeing to it that the parks pay out as little as possible.
If you need compensation for an injury that was sustained at a Florida amusement park, you’ll need to be represented by an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer who routinely represents amusement park injury victims, understands how the parks operate, and knows what to expect.
WHAT DOES FLORIDA LAW REQUIRE OF AMUSEMENT PARKS?
If you are injured at an amusement park, the company that is in charge of park operation may be lawfully responsible for your damages if the park’s staff and/or management were negligent, that is, if they failed to operate the park and conduct their duties with what the law calls “reasonable care.” The law in Florida says that an amusement park is responsible for injuries if the park fails to keep its rides, activities, or premises safe for visitors.
A park may be found guilty of negligence if a ride that was improperly inspected or maintained injures someone. Negligence may also be the finding if an amusement park employee provides a visitor with inadequate or improper instructions, fails to provide appropriate warnings about the hazards of a ride, or operates the ride in a negligent manner. Employers are responsible for the actions of employees in these situations, and visitors who are injured due to negligence are entitled to compensation.
State laws in Florida and most other states require amusement parks to adhere to strict and precise safety regulations. If a park is not following these rules, there will be a legal presumption that the park operated negligently. If you are injured at an amusement park and you sue for damages, and if you and your attorney can prove that a park’s violation of safety standards was the cause of your injuries, your personal injury claim will probably be successful.
IS NEGLIGENCE THE ONLY CAUSE OF AMUSEMENT PARK INJURIES?
Sometimes when visitors to amusement parks are injured, the claim is not negligence but instead is product liability. Even when a park’s management and staff are performing their duties with reasonable care, if an amusement park ride was designed or manufactured defectively, and the defect results in injuries, an injury victim can file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the ride.
However, to win such a product liability lawsuit, an injury victim (a “plaintiff”) but must prove – probably by using expert testimony – that the ride was designed or manufactured defectively. If the park’s owners did not use reasonable care when the ride was selected for the amusement park over other rides, the park can also be named as a defendant. Because every case is different, if you’re injured at an amusement park, you’ll need the advice and insights of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
When you visit an amusement park with your family or friends, whether it’s in Florida or anywhere else, it is imperative to read all of the posted directions and warnings and to speak with park workers if you have any concerns or questions. Pay attention to park employees when they offer explanations or directions.
If you bring children to an amusement park, make certain there’s no “horseplay” while a ride is in progress. If there’s an injury and you file a claim, the park and its attorneys almost always try to turn the blame on the victim and say that the victim – not the park or its employees – was negligent and responsible for the injury or injuries.
WHY IS IT IMPERATIVE TO HAVE AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY?
Especially if you are injured at one of Orlando’s big amusement parks, you are going to need experienced legal help. Disney, Sea World, and Universal are represented by savvy attorneys who have plenty of experience defending the parks against lawsuits.
But if you can prove your claim is true, and you have sufficient evidence, testimony, and your own experienced attorney fighting on your behalf, it won’t matter how savvy or experienced the other side attorneys are.
When you prove a negligence or product liability claim against a Florida amusement park, you are entitled to compensation for all past, present, and future medical expenses related to the accident and injury; all lost wages – if you are a wage-earner – including any loss of future earning capacity; all injury-related pain, suffering, disability, and disfigurement; and the loss of the “enjoyment of life.”
However, you’ll have to prove your claim with an attorney’s help to win any compensation at all. But even before speaking to an attorney – in fact, as soon as you realize that you or someone you love has been injured – you should take these steps at once:
Collect evidence: Take photos of the accident scene, write down notes regarding any discussions you had with employees of the park, and document whatever action the park took in its immediate response to the accident. Make copies of any and all paperwork you obtain from the park and from healthcare providers.
If the police are summoned to the scene, obtain a copy of their report as well, and if there were eyewitnesses to the accident, try to get names, phone numbers, and street or email addresses so that your attorney can contact those eyewitnesses if their statements or testimony are needed.
Seek medical attention right away: Even if you are not severely injured, you need to have a doctor assess the extent of the damage. You must know the nature of your injuries and the prognosis for your recovery before you can file a personal injury claim, and you’ll need the medical reports and tests that verify your claim.
Speak only to an experienced Orlando personal injury attorney regarding your claim: Do not speak to anyone else regarding your case. The park’s insurance company or attorneys may try to interview you. Tell them nothing except your attorney’s name and phone number. You may be offered a quick settlement. Don’t accept it. A quick settlement offer is probably for an amount far less than your claim is actually worth. Let your personal injury attorney handle all of the talking and negotiating on your behalf.
Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, and they typically charge a personal injury client no fee unless and until a settlement or verdict is obtained. Florida’s amusement parks are the world’s greatest, and for most families, the parks offer nothing but awesome entertainment and wonderful family memories. If your own visit to a Florida amusement park ends with an injury, legal help is available, but you have to take the first step and make the call to an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer.