As the summer months approach, many people will be heading out to theme parks for a day of fun and amusement. There are many parks to choose from around the country including Disneyland, Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and Six Flags. While most who visit these entertaining venues come home with only happy memories and overpriced souvenirs, an unlucky few come home with injuries. The cause of these injuries vary, but according to a 2009 article in the Orlando Sentinel, the most common type of personal injury lawsuit filed against amusement parks involve slip and fall accidents.
In the article, the Sentinel looked at 477 lawsuits that were filed against the three biggest theme park companies in the area: the Busch Entertainment Corporation, Walt Disney World, and Universal Orlando. The lawsuits were filed over a period of four years, from 2004-2008. Of the cases filed, 218 involved slip and fall type accidents, 101 were over injuries from rides or attractions, and the remaining 158 involved other types of accidents.
The resolutions of the various cases filed against the theme park companies varied. Only a few of the lawsuits made it all the way to trial. And, according to the Sentinel, the seven that did were all won by the theme park. However, a case not going to trial is not unusual in civil litigation. A majority of civil cases are settled as opposed to being decided by a jury. Most of the remaining theme park lawsuits, two-thirds in fact, were settled in some fashion, either officially or through a private agreement. In addition, 117 cases had yet to be resolved as of March 15, 2009.
Of the cases that were settled, only six reported any information about how much the monetary amount of the settlement was. According to the article, the agreements reached "ranged from a low of $4,300 — offered to the family of a boy injured on Doctor Doom's Fear Fall in Universal's Islands of Adventure — to a high of $145,000 — offered to the family of a toddler run over by a taxicab at a Disney hotel."
A theme park, like most other businesses, has a duty to use reasonable care to prevent patrons from being injured. As mentioned above, the most common type of amusement park injury tends to be slip and fall accidents. Slip and fall accidents fall under an area of the law called premises liability. Premises liability deals with the duty a landowner or occupier owes to those who enter onto the property. If the landowner was negligent in maintaining the property and that negligence results in injury, then the landowner may be liable to the injured party for damages. Traditionally, a person who enters onto another's property was categorized under the law as either an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser. A landowner owed the greatest duty of care to invitees and the least to trespassers. Customers at theme parks are usually categorized as invitees and are thus owed the highest duty of care.
If you or a loved one has been injured while on another's premises, contact the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian. We have a fierce, experienced, and intelligent team of attorneys willing to fight for you if you have been injured because of someone's negligence. We offer a free phone consultation, so please do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss your case today.