We all love amusement parks. The thrill of the roller coaster, the refreshment of the water slides, and winning the big stuffed animals are all part of a wonderful family experience. Now that Spring is upon us, many of us will venture out into these parks to enjoy ourselves. As much fun as there is to be had, the day can be very dangerous if care is not taken.
Millions of people visit amusement parks each year without incident, however each year thousands are injured during such visits. Tragically, some visitors never leave an amusement or water parks alive.
Injuries occur when you do not follow safety rules, and also when the rides or facilities themselves are defective or partially broken, such as faulty hinges or loose bindings. Lap bars, doors, harnesses and other restraining devices can fail.
Park workers can also fail to do proper safety checks. Park employees responsible for you can become distracted and fail to operate the ride safely.
Make sure your children are tall enough, weigh enough, and are old enough to ride alone, and while on the ride, assure they are strapped or buckled in properly. At water parks or on water rides, make sure, if your children are inexperienced swimmers, (and even if they are but they are still young) that they are wearing the appropriate safety equipment and that you or another responsible person is watching them.
Here are some additional thoughts for enjoying an accident-free experience:
If the ride operators do not seem concerned about passenger safety, or they appear preoccupied with something else, say something to re-direct them, or do not board the ride.
Before the ride starts, assure that the ride’s seat belt, harness or restraint locks snugly when secured. If it does not, ask the operator to assist you.
Use an eyeglass strap, or remove them, and remove your hat.
On water slide rides and in wave pools, make sure your child is old enough and weighs enough to be safe alone, otherwise, use a buddy-system with you or an appropriate older person.
If you do suffer an injury, get medical attention immediately and seek the assistance of the park management. You should document what occurred, take photographs if possible, and gather the information about the ride. Also, get contact information for the park’s offices and for any witnesses to the events.
Note that in Florida, the venue of some of the most popular parks, the law does not require the park to report injuries unless they involve fatalities or an immediate 24-hour hospitalization. Also, there is no Federal law on amusement park safety.
If any injury occurs, you may have a claim for compensation, including the value of medical bills incurred, and “pain and suffering” against the park. There may also be a claim against the manufacturer of the faulty park ride.
All injury claims require proving negligence. Someone must have done something wrong. An attendant wasn’t paying attention; a ride was faulty. If the injury is caused by the negligence of an attendant, you must prove this, and you must be able to show that the result was your injury. If your injury is caused by a defective park ride, you will have to show what was defective.
You must be able to show you followed safety rules. If your injury followed you jumping off of the roller coaster, the park probably isn’t going to be responsible.
Those of you with good legal minds might be asking about now about the ticket you buy which gives you admission to the park. The ticket almost always will “disclaim” liability if you suffer an injury. This is an agreement that you make with the park, one that you probably did not even know you about when you plunked down the admission price. No worries: the park must do the things it needs to do to assure your safety. This includes proper training of workers and checking all equipment and rides on a regular basis. The ticket will not get them off of the hook if they were negligent.
It is absolutely a challenge for amusement parks to maintain the thrill of their rides and at the same time provide for your safety.
Go to the park. Bring the whole family. Have fun. Eat the cotton candy. Win a stuffed animal. Be aware, be safe, and enjoy yourself.
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website. He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics. Paul is the featured legal analyst on the Washington Times Radio, on the Andy Parks show, on Wednesdays at 5:15 P.M., and he is a columnist on the Washington Times Communities.
His book The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You is free to Maryland and Virginia residents and can be obtained by ordering it on his website; others can obtain it on Amazon.
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