When Injuries are the Theme

Many of us fail to take advantage of the adventures that await us in our own backyards. When we dream of getting away from it all, we tend to imagine ourselves in completely new environments. New Yorkers tend to skip over Niagara Falls; Texans don’t remember the Alamo; Kentuckians forget about Mammoth Cave. However, at least one informal survey suggests that Floridians don’t follow that trend. While the theme parks of central Florida entice millions of people from across the globe every year, Orlando is also a powerful draw for in-state visitors. It's the most-booked destination for Miami, Jacksonville and Tallahassee residents, while setting an overall record of 55.1 million visitors in 2011, according to VisitOrlando. Regardless of whether a visitor is a Floridian, the chances of being injured at Florida theme park are the same.

No one visits an amusement park thinking they could be hurt or killed, especially in the theme park capital of America. However, the numbers reveal that all visitors should be concerned about safety, because accidents do happen. Florida has exempted major theme parks from public ride-safety regulations because the rides operate as a lasting part of the premises and are not regularly relocated. As part of the agreement, the qualifying theme parks must release quarterly injury reports to the state. The currently eligible theme parks are SeaWorld, Wet ’n'Wild, Busch Gardens, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and Legoland.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently published second quarter injury reports received from April 2015 to June 2015. To make the list, the injury had to occur on a ride and result in a hospital stay that lasted for more than 24 hours. According to the Department, Walt Disney World reported 10 injuries, Universal Orlando reported six injuries and SeaWorld reported one injury. The injuries at Disney World included a mini-stroke, a seizure, a broken hip and a broken ankle; a woman suffered a herniated cervical disc at SeaWorld. Although broken bones and problems with pre-existing conditions are common injuries, fatalities do occur. For example, in October of 2014, a woman who complained of nausea and dizziness after riding Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney World lost consciousness and died.

Theme parks have a duty to operate rides safely. Common risks and issues include:

  • Abrupt starts and stops
  • Electrical shorts and failures
  • Failure to post warning notices
  • Failure to shut off or come to an emergency stop
  • Improper assembly or installation
  • Improper height or weight restrictions
  • Improper loading and unloading procedures
  • Improper machine operation due to lack of proper training or operator misbehavior
  • Improper maintenance
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Loose or malfunctioning cables
  • Malfunctioning lap bars and safety lock failures
  • Sharp and protruding parts.

When you head out for fun at a theme park, you don’t think about getting hurt or whether you would be able to file a successful personal injury claim if something goes wrong. That’s why we’re here. At Stabinski and Funt, P.A., we handle a wide range of personal injury cases. For 45 years, we have helped people understand their rights under the law. If you were injured while visiting a Florida theme park or are the survivor of someone who was killed here, or if you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact us by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form.

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