Amusement Park Accident Attorney in California
While amusement parks provide family entertainment for millions yearly, they can also result in injuries. Amusement park rides are responsible for thousands of emergency room visits each year—and on occasion, the injuries may even be fatal.
The gates open daily on some of California's best theme parks and water parks, but you must be cautious when your safety is in the hands of the owners and operators of these parks.
Amusement park accidents are common at Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm, Discovery Kingdom, Universal Studios in Los Angeles, and on rides at the County Fair.
While getting care for the injuries is a top priority, victims will soon have important questions about where to get legal representation after an amusement park accident in California.
You need to know whom to hold accountable in an insurance claim against a theme park. There could be several parties to hold liable after you or a family member were injured at an amusement park.
Thus, you should consult with our California amusement park injury lawyers to review the details and the amount of compensation you might recover from the amusement park owners and operators.
Under California's premises liability laws, if you are injured by a hazard that should have been repaired or removed, you can hold the park financially responsible because they were negligent in their duty of care owed to you and your family.
Simply put, in the State of California, if you're injured at an amusement park due to someone's negligence, you may be able to recover damages for your losses. Let's review this topic in greater detail below.
What Are the Common Causes of Injuries at Amusement Parks?
There are many different ways someone can be injured at an amusement park. However, some of the most common causes of injuries include:
- Rides that malfunction. Malfunctions may occur due to manufacturer defects or poor maintenance, often resulting in injury.
- Ride operator error. Amusement parks are responsible for training their employees to operate the rides safely. Injuries may result if a ride operator is improperly trained or doesn't follow proper protocols.
- Roller coasters and other rides. A safety device that holds you in your seat might malfunction, causing a neck injury. Also, a part might fly off an attraction and hit you even when you are not on the ride.
- Slip-and-fall accidents. These accidents can occur almost anywhere at an amusement park, from the entryway to the exit of a ride. Poorly maintained walkways, wet surfaces, poor lighting, and obstacles in the walking path can all contribute to slip-and-fall accidents.
- Poor security. Amusement parks are responsible for providing adequate protection to keep visitors safe. If an assault or another type of crime occurs on the premises and the amusement park could have prevented it with better security, the park may be liable.
- Inadequate signage or warnings. If an amusement park ride has inherent risks that are not adequately warned about—or if there is inadequate signage to warn visitors not to venture into unsafe or restricted areas—the park may be liable for injuries resulting from those risks.
- Vehicle accidents. For example, if a shuttle crashes while carrying passengers, a maintenance vehicle, or an employee cart strikes a visitor, it may cause an injury.
- Shock hazards – An electrical shock from an exposed wire or ungrounded machinery could cause severe injury and even death.
- Wrongful death – In some cases, someone could be killed when amusement park owners and operators neglect their duty to keep people safe. Families can file a wrongful death claim to pay for a funeral, ambulance, and medical expenses. It also provides for the family in the future when a loved one's financial support is no longer available.
Who Is Liable for Amusement Park Injuries in California?
In California, amusement park injuries typically fall under the premises liability law, which means that in most cases, the owner or manager of the amusement park is liable for any injuries that occur within the park due to negligence or error.
However, depending on the circumstances of the accident, other parties may also be held liable. For example:
- If a ride is defective, the manufacturer may be liable. This is especially true if the defect was due to a manufacturing error rather than poor maintenance on the part of the amusement park.
- If a ride operator is at fault, they may be liable for their negligence.
- If your injury occurred due to a vehicle collision on park grounds, the operator might be liable.
- If another park visitor caused your injury, that visitor might bear liability.
In some cases, multiple parties may be held liable for an injury. For example, if a ride is defective and the operator is negligent, the manufacturer and the operator may be held partly responsible for damages.
Other potentially liable parties include the theme park owners, contractors working on projects for the park, and property management companies.
These parties typically have business liability insurance or are covered by the policies of their employers. Therefore, the more insurance companies involved in the case, the greater your chance of not paying for any of your recovery out-of-pocket.
When Is the Amusement Park NOT Liable for Your Injuries?
In some circumstances, an amusement park may be wholly or partly exempt from liability for your injuries. These include:
- If you failed to follow safety requirements. If you knowingly and willingly assumed the risks inherent in the activity that caused your injury—for example, by not following proper safety protocols or venturing into a restricted area—the amusement park may not be liable for your injuries. You may also be considered at fault for your injuries if you acted unsafely.
- If you are on park grounds illegally. If you snuck into the park without paying, you are trespassing. The park is not legally responsible for injuries caused to people who are unauthorized to be on the premises.
- If you were engaged in the commission of a crime. If you were committing a crime on park grounds and were injured in the process, the amusement park is not legally responsible for your injuries.
Although these situations may exempt the park from liability, California is still a comparative negligence state.
This means that even if your injuries were partly your fault, you still might be able to sue the park for its role in the incident and recover damages. However, the award amount would be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you in the accident.
What Type of Damages Can You Claim after a Park Injury?
If you are injured in an amusement park accident, you may be able to recover any/all of the following damages for your injuries:
- Medical expenses. This can include both current and future medical bills related to your injuries.
- Lost wages. If you are unable to work due to your injuries, you may be able to recover the wages you would have earned during that time.
- Pain and suffering. This can include both physical and emotional anguish caused by the injuries.
- Punitive damages. In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded in addition to other damages if the court finds that the amusement park's actions were particularly egregious or showed a willful disregard for safety.
- Permanent disfigurement. Cosmetic surgery and other support to help you resume your everyday life.
- Loss of consortium. This covers the loss of support and intimacy an injured victim's partner must endure.
You need to be aware of amusement park insurance tactics. Major companies like Disney, NBC Universal, and Comcast are well-known for providing victims with little or no compensation.
Their insurance adjusters will try to weaken your case by trying to discredit your claim. Allowing a premises liability lawyer to handle your communications with an amusement park would be best. Otherwise, insurance adjusters could attempt to take advantage of you.
For example, they might try to get you to make a recorded statement about what happened. You must decline any such request and are not legally obligated to give one.
If you or a family member were injured in a theme park accident, contact our amusement park injury attorneys serving California victims. Never trust an insurance company to look out for your best interests.
We offer a free case evaluation by phone or using the contact form. You don't pay any fees unless we win your case. Injury Justice Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, CA.