As Spring quickly approaches and COVID-19 restrictions lessen, residents of Ontario are undoubtedly looking forward to a summer of fun. Some individuals will find themselves at amusement parks, such as Ontario Place, Calypso Water Park, Centreville, and Canada’s Wonderland. It is important to be aware of the risks involved and the recourse available for injured people.
Thousands of people per year are injured by amusement park rides. Amusement park accidents are caused by one of three things:
- Negligence on the part of the guest, such as the refusal to follow specific ride safety instructions or the deliberate intent to violate the rules.
- The result of a guest's known, or unknown, health issues.
- Negligence on the part of the park, either by ride operator or maintenance safety instructions, or the deliberate intent to violate the rules.
When the cause of an amusement park ride falls under the third category, a victim can bring a negligence claim against the amusement park and its employees, or, a product liability claim against the manufacturer of a defective ride. In some cases, a victim can bring claims against both the park and the manufacturer. A park or park employee may be negligent for their actions, but also for their inactions. An amusement park has the duty to post clear warning signs warning riders of the risks involved, provide proper training to employees, maintain equipment in a safe condition, inspect rides, and provide proper instructions to riders.
Children represent ½ of all amusement park ride injuries and ¾ of falls or ejections from rides. Those injured in an amusement park accident may sustain head, neck, and back injuries, whiplash, stroke, traumatic brain injury, lacerations, broken bones, and in the most serious cases, death.
The leading contributors to injuries and fatalities at amusement parks are a mechanical failure, improper operation, passenger misuse, and the inherent nature of the ride. The leading defenses include a patron’s assumption of risk, rider non-compliance with safety rules, and admission ticket disclaimers.
The assumption of risk is not a blanket defense. A guest at an amusement park must be aware of the risks involved in order to assume them. A properly trained ride operator should ensure all riders comply with the posted age/weight/height requirements of a ride. Lastly, admission disclaimers are typically too broad to be argued in court, especially where a patron’s ability to understand the disclaimer is questionable.If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident or has been denied insurance benefits, please contact our team at JEWELL RADIMISIS JORGE LL.P. for a free initial consultation.