Florida is known for its amusement parks and theme parks, and in the summer these parks see a lot of business. Unfortunately, each year personal injury and even fatalities do occur at theme parks. Unfortunately, because of the customers that theme parks attract, many of these incidents are injuries to minors and children. From broken bones to food poisoning, burn injuries, head injuries and spinal cord injuries, there are many potential risks at theme parks.
Theme park officials note that the rate of injury and death are small when the total number of visitors to theme parks is considered, but this is small consolation to those who lose a loved one or see a member of the family injured at a theme park. The Ripsaw Falls water-flume ride at Universal Studios caused three passengers back pain and neck pain within a four-month period. A man was pinned between vehicles on the DisneyWorld ride Peter Pan Flight. A 7-year-old child’s thumb was bitten by a dolphin at SeaWorld. Although these incidents did not often make the national news, these and other theme park injuries cost families stress, pain, and large medical bills.
It’s not just theme park guests who are at risk. Employees of theme parks are also vulnerable to injuries, especially during the busy summer months. In 2006, a SeaWorld trainer was attacked by a killer whale in California. The man was hospitalized for his injuries. Orlando DisneyWorld employee Javier Cruz was killed in 2004 when a float ran over him during a Magic Kingdom parade.
Florida does regulate ride safety at carnivals and fairs. However, larger theme parks – including DisneyWorld, SeaWorld and Universal Studios – are not subjected to state inspections. A ‘memorandum of understanding’ with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services allows these parks to regulate themselves and requires the parks to hire their own maintenance crews, conduct their own ride inspections, conduct yearly safety presentations, and report any accidents and deaths to officials.
There are several things that parents and families can do to stay safer at theme parks this year. Parents can ensure that children are supervised at all times. Any instructions posted on the rides – including warnings about maximum and minimum heights and body weights – should be obeyed. Any verbal instructions given by employees and park staff should also be followed to the letter.
If you or a loved one has been injured while visiting a theme park, keep in mind that in addition to the stress of a ruined holiday and the worry of a hospital stay, you may face large medical bills, lost vacation time, and even lost income. Some injuries sustained at a theme park may even require rehabilitative care or long-term therapies. For all these reasons, a good Florida attorney is a good choice. At Flaxman and Lopez, you can set up a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options. Simply call 1- 800-535-2962 (1 800 5 FLAXMAN).