While amusement parks are generally a place for fun and adrenaline, serious injuries do happen. Whether a Florida local or tourist, our team of Tampa amusement park injury attorneys can help you family seek compensation for medical bills, loss of wages and more if you’ve been injured from negligence at any of our famous parks.
Fiol Law Group can handle all types of amusement park accident claims: slip and falls, ride malfunctions, sexual assault, spinal cord injuries, amputations, wrongful death, and more. We have years of experience handling cases in the personal injury practice area. Our lawyers can help you hold an amusement park, an employee, or a product manufacturer responsible for your damages. Call (813) 223-6773 for a free consultation today.
About Florida Amusement Parks
People flock to Florida from all over the world to experience our multitude of famous theme parks, water parks, and amusements: Disney World, Busch Gardens, Sea World, Universal Studios, Legoland, Wet ‘n Wild, Weeki-Wachee, and so many more. In 2016, around 112.8 million tourists from around the globe visited the Sunshine State, and a large number of them visited our corporate-owned parks. These are high excitement, high action, and high technology establishments that are enjoyed by of visitors and bring in exorbitant profits for the corporations that design, build, and operate them. Other smaller local amusement parks and traveling carnivals exist around the state as well. Unfortunately, not all park owners look out for the safety and well-being of guests. This can lead to property hazards and risks that can cause serious or fatal guest injuries.
The Park Owner’s Responsibility to Visitors
This poses an enormous responsibility on the park owners to ensure that the fun-seekers who visit their properties enjoy a safe and healthy experience. This requires implementing safety procedures surrounding the operation and maintenance of rides and attractions, keeping viewers safe from animals in live exhibits and elsewhere on park grounds, and keeping the grounds free from various hazards. By law, anyone who operates a property where the public is invited or allowed owes a “duty of care” to its visitors to prevent them from being injured or killed on the premises by a hazardous condition that the responsible party either created or allowed to exist without providing appropriate warnings and/or barriers.
Furthermore, the owner/operator of the park is responsible for the selection and training of its workers to ensure that rides and attractions are properly maintained and operated according to strict safety standards, and to ensure that those employees are not only properly trained, but that they have been screened to ensure that they have no serious criminal background involving violent crimes or sexual offenses. Along these same lines, they should also take steps to ensure that their grounds are free from other criminal activity that could result in victimization of visitors, by providing appropriate security measures.
Failure in the responsibility for maintenance and security of a theme park, amusement park, or water park that results in injuries or fatalities can incur owner liability for the injured party’s damages in a premises liability or negligent security cause of action.
Defects in Design or Manufacture of Amusement Attractions
In addition to the responsibility of the park owners for visitor safety, companies that design and manufacture the high-speed adrenaline-producing rides that these parks feature have a responsibility for the safety of those who use their rides. When accidents and injuries are caused by improper design or manufacture of the rides, the company that supplied them or the designer may be held liable in a product liability legal action.
Amusement Park Injury Statistics
While theme parks are usually safe, it is inevitable with their size, number of visitors, and fast-moving, potentially dangerous amusements, that accidents will happen, many of which could likely be prevented by increased care for visitor safety. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that in 2016, 30,900 injuries serious enough to require an emergency room visit were caused by amusement park attractions in parks and traveling carnivals and fairs, and that there have been about 22 deaths since 2010. These figures do not include water parks. CPSC data, which are hard to obtain with much accuracy, the Commission says, show that more than 4,200 people require emergency room treatment for injuries ranging from lacerations to concussions, broken limbs, spinal cord injuries, and more. Several drownings and near-drownings have also occurred in water parks.
Injury Statistics in Local Parks
Florida is home to some of the largest and most popular amusement parks in the country. This also makes it one of the most common settings for amusement park accidents, injuries, and deaths. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attraction’s 2018 Ride Safety Report highlights some of the latest facts on related injuries in the U.S. – including accidents in Florida.
• Approximately 370 million people enjoyed 1.7 billion rides across over 400 amusement parks and facilities in North America. The odds of suffering a serious injury on a fixed-site ride are 1 in 18 million.
• The number of estimated ride-related injuries in 2017 was 1,171. About 10% of these injuries were serious, meaning they either required immediate hospitalization for longer than 24 hours or resulted in death.
• The majority of injuries took place on family and adult rides, followed by roller coasters and kids’ rides. Injury due to the motion of the ride was the dominant type. Most reportable injuries on kids’ rides, however, were from getting on or off the ride.
• Since 2006, the state of Florida has processed more than 400 theme park injury reports. The highest number of reports has come from the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. One-third of reports have to do with motion sickness, while others reported chest pain.
• Within the 400 injury and illness reports from Florida amusement parks, there have been 14 reported deaths. At least seven of the victims had pre-existing health conditions prior to the incident.
National databases track injuries and illnesses from fixed-site rides. They do not, however, include statistics for rides that are only on a site part of the time, such as those at a temporary carnival or fair. The true amusement park injury rate is higher than what the CPSC estimates. Most people are unaware of any past accidents, injuries, or deaths that previously occurred on a ride prior to getting on. They may not fully understand the risks – especially if the amusement park is guilty of negligence.
Most Common Amusement Parks Injuries in Tampa
Tampa is a city of amusements. Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, and Legoland are three of the most popular amusement parks in town, on top of attractions such as the Lowry Park Zoo, Jump Station, Treasure Island Fun Center, and annual carnivals. In a day of family fun, the last thing you might expect is to be leaving the park in an ambulance. Yet, every year, hundreds of amusement park visitors suffer minor to serious injuries. Some of the most common range from broken bones to traumatic brain injuries. After any type of injury at a Tampa amusement park, seek counsel from an attorney.
Neck and Back Injuries
Part of the fun of an amusement park is the chance to enjoy thrilling rides. Unfortunately, some rides leave park goers with more than just fun memories. The most common amusement park ride injuries stem from the motion of the ride. Head, neck, back injuries are all common harms from typical ride motions. Rollercoasters can make sudden turns, twists, stops, and accelerations that can whip the head and neck around, causing tears and other injuries. Even a “minor” back injury can cause chronic pain and permanent disability.
If a ride causes the skull to strike any part of the carrier, or a malfunction results in equipment or debris striking the head, riders can suffer serious head and brain injuries. The same is true in slip, trip, and fall accidents in which park goers hit their head. Concussions are the most common brain injuries, but more serious harms such as contusions, open-head brain injuries, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are all possible. According to data, children ages one to six suffer injures to the head more often than other body parts (40%).
The normal motion of a ride could cause concussions, whiplash, or more serious injuries such as a diffuse axonal brain injury – the type of injury that stems from excessive shaking of the brain within the skull. This kind of injury results in tears to the brain’s sensitive tissues, such as the brain stem. Riders can also sustain impact injuries to the head and body from striking the sides of the carrier in sudden movements. Serious brain injuries can permanently affect cognitive abilities, range of motion, and other abilities.
Lacerations can happen if a poorly maintained amusement park has hazards such as exposed or jagged metal. Lacerations may require stitches and can cause permanent scars. There is also the risk of infection. Negligent amusement park owners and maintenance teams could be liable for lacerations that occur due to property hazards.
Of course, not all accidents are the fault of the park, but many are. Fortunately, major theme parks, such as those owned by Disney and Anheuser Busch, carry quite large insurance policies, so if you are able to prove that the elements of a personal injury case and to demonstrate that the park was at fault, there is little question that the coverage will be sufficient to cover your damages. Smaller local amusement parks, carnivals, or fairs might not be as well insured, however.
Some amusement park goers will never come home. Amusement park accidents can be deadly, unexpectedly taking the life of a loved one. If someone you love never returned from a trip to a Florida amusement park or carnival, your family has rights. If someone else’s negligence contributed to the fatal incident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. At Fiol Law Group, we know compensation will not make up for your loss. We hope, however, that it might provide financial stability during this difficult time.
Only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim in Florida. The deceased person’s will may have named a representative, or else the courts will appoint one. The representative will bring the claim on behalf of surviving dependents, such as children, a spouse, or parents. The claimant has two years from the date of death to file the claim. Missing the deadline could mean losing the right to obtain any compensation from the at-fault party.
Finding the Right Legal Help in Florida
At the Fiol Law Group, with offices in Tampa and Orlando, we have extensive experience in winning recovery awards for clients who have suffered all types of personal injuries because of some other party’s negligence or wrongdoing. We have handled many cases against Florida’s amusement and theme parks and are familiar with their insurers and the tactics they use to try to diminish the value of claims against them. We are aggressive and firmly committed to justice for every client we agree to represent.
When a long-anticipated vacation or a spur-of-the-moment weekend getaway to one of Florida’s parks goes wrong, we are here to offer the legal support you need. Our goal is to maximize the chances of a fair outcome that will allow you and your family to move on with life after an injury or death in the family during what should have been a day of fun in the Florida sun.
Our attorneys, recognized by Super Lawyers as being among the state’s best. We are powerful negotiators and often able to settle a case without your having to go to court; but if a trial is required to get you a fair amount of compensation for your losses, we are seasoned and experienced trial lawyers, always ready and able to take your thoroughly prepared case to a jury. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients over the years, and we are here to help you.
Call to schedule a free case consultation. Tell us your story, and we’ll give you the guidance that you need to negotiate the Florida legal system to achieve a just resolution of your claim. There are statutory restrictions on the amount of time you have to file your claim, so call us today to protect your right to a monetary recovery.