Liability for Your Amusement Park Injury
UPDATED: August 26, 2013
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Amusement parks can provide a fun experience for you and your family, however, a trip can quickly turn sour if you or a loved one is injured at the park. An amusement park injury can result in costly damages in the form of medical treatment, lost wages, and physical pain and suffering. If you or a loved one is injured in an amusement park, consult an experienced personal injury attorney for assistance collecting the money you are need to pay for your losses.
NOTE: Pursuing monetary damages from an amusement park or the park's insurance company is a difficult process. You will meet resistance from the park's attorneys who are well practiced at reducing the money you can collect. Give yourself a chance to collect the money you deserve by working with an experienced attorney.
Amusement Park Responsibility
If you are injured in an amusement park, the company that operates the park may be legally responsible for your damages. There are four possible bases for liability:
1. Negligence (lack of reasonable care): Negligence law will find an amusement park responsible for injuries if the park failed to keep its rides or premises safe for visitors. For example, negligence may be found if a ride was not in a safe condition, improperly maintained or inspected. Negligence may also be present if a park employee gave the visitor improper instructions, failed to provide proper warnings about the dangers of the ride, or operated the ride in such a way that the visitor was hurt. Employers are responsible for the actions of the employees, so injured visitors can sue the park owner if an employee fails to use reasonable care.
Most states have laws requiring amusement parks to take certain strict safety precautions. If a park does not do so, there will be a legal presumption that the park operated negligently, which makes it easer to prove a claim against the park.
In some states, owners and operators are not automatically insurers of the safety of park visitors. Therefore, they will only be liable when it can be proved that they acted negligently.
2. Product liability: Product liability may be found if a ride was so inherently dangerous that proper maintenance, inspection and use could not have prevented the injury. An injured person may sue both the manufacturer and the park, but to win, he/she must show that the manufacturer could have used an alternative design that would have prevented the injury, which obviously is both difficult and expensive to do. In addition, the person suing must also show that the park owner failed to use reasonable care when deciding to have the ride at all.
Another hurdle is that a court may find that a person assumed the risk in using the ride, and that it is unrealistic to expect manufacturers to take all sorts of precautions to make a ride 100% safe.
3. Premises liability: Property owners must exercise reasonable care in the construction, management and maintenance of all grounds and facilities. Failure to do so will make the owner liable for injuries suffered by people invited onto the property for business purposes, such as a park visitor. Even open and obvious dangers may result in liability.
4. Wrongful death: This is a death due to the careless, reckless or negligent act of another. Recent cases where an amusement park caused the death of a visitor have resulted in more than $1 million in settlements and damages.
Suing an Amusement Park
If you are planning to file a lawsuit against an amusement park or manufacturer of a ride for injuries sustained while at the park, you will need to consult an experienced attorney for assistance. Before speaking with an attorney you can help your case by taking the following action:
- Collecting available evidence - take photos of the scene of the accident, note any conversations you had with park employees, and record all the action taken by the park immediately after your accident.
- Getting medical attention - even if you are not seriously injured, you need to visit a doctor to evaluate the full extent of your injuries. You will not be able to know how much money to claim in your suit if you do not know the nature of your injuries, the prognosis for recovery, and the necessary short or long term treatment.
- Document all your losses - from lost wages, to missed business opportunities, to additional costs required for treatment or in-home care, make sure you keep documents that show all your losses and costs associated with the injury.
- Keep all insurance and hospital paperwork - in the period before collecting money in a lawsuit, you will likely need medical attention that your health insurance plan will cover. Keep track of all hospital invoices and insurance payments - paperwork is crucial to lawsuits.
- Do not talk to anyone about your injuries or your case - saying the wrong thing to an opposing attorney or insurance adjuster can compromise your claim. If you are questioned about the accident, you are free to take the time to speak to an attorney.
A personal injury attorney will be able to help by evaluating your case, calculating the damages you are owed, leveling the playing field against opposing attorneys, and give you the best chance to recover the money you are owed. Personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, and typically arrange fee agreements that require very little, if any, money until after you have received a judgment.