Who is Liable for an Injury at a Theme Park?
Who is Liable for an Injury at a Theme Park?

California is home to a plethora of theme and amusement parks. From Six Flags Magic Mountain to Knott’s Berry Farm to Disneyland, there are tons of parks dedicated to entertaining and thrilling both locals and tourists. For most people, these parks provide a fun and engaging experience. Unfortunately, a day at a theme park can go south quickly if someone suffers an injury at the park.

Who is Most Likely to Get Injured at a Theme Park?

Roller coasters and intense thrill rides might seem like the most likely culprits for amusement park injuries, but oftentimes children’s attractions can be the real dangers. According to the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, there was a 15-fold increase in injuries to children resulting from jumpers, bounce houses, and other inflatable attractions, from 1995 to 2010. Moreover, children account for roughly half of people injured by amusement park rides. Children ages 10-14 sustain the most injuries of any age group, according to the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

What is the Amusement Park’s Duty of Care?

If you or your loved one has been injured at an amusement park, can the park be held liable for your injuries? To answer that, we need to look at premises liability law. The first question to ask when considering liability is: what is the park’s duty of care? As with all premises liability cases, the duty of care depends on the type of entrant who was injured. The three types of entrants are invitees, licensees and trespassers. If you have purchased a ticket and legally entered the park, you should be considered an invitee (conversely, if you were not lawfully on the property, you would be considered a trespasser). As an invitee, you are owed the highest duty of care by the amusement park. What does this entail?

For one, the park has the responsibility of keeping all rides and attractions safe for use. This means the rides should be free of defects and must be regularly inspected and maintained. They must also be equipped with appropriate restraints to secure passengers. Rides must always be supervised by an employee. If there is an issue with a ride, the park is responsible for safely escorting guests off the ride, closing the ride down, and having it repaired and adequately inspected before letting guests back onto it.

The park also has the responsibility of maintaining the entire premises—not just the rides. The grounds must be reasonably clear from hazards. The employees must keep all facilities maintained and must warn guests of any dangers, such as wet floors or slippery stairs. Moreover, if an area is off-limits to patrons, this must also be indicated clearly.

If the injury you or your loved one suffered was a result of the park or its employees breaching the duty of care, then you may have a personal injury claim. As the plaintiff, you would need to prove the park was negligent, and that their negligence directly contributed to the injuries you suffered.

Who Else Might be Liable?

It is less likely, but it is possible that the manufacturer of a ride could be liable for your injuries, if the ride itself was defective. If this were the case, the ride would need to be assessed by engineering specialists. If the ride was found to be inherently defective, you would file a lawsuit against the company that manufactured the ride.  

What About Assumption of Risk?

The fine print on your ticket to the amusement park may contain some kind of release of liability. Does that protect the park from being sued if someone is injured there? The amusement park may attempt to use this waiver to escape liability, but in cases where the park was clearly negligent, the fine print is most likely not going to be enforceable.

However, there are cases in which a guest at a park is injured, but the park may not be responsible for the damages. For instance, amusement parks generally have signs at the entrances of rides indicating that people with certain conditions should not ride. If someone with one of these conditions—such as a heart condition or back problem—decides to ride the attraction despite the warning sign, they will likely be considered to have assumed the risk. If they are subsequently injured and there was no negligence on the part of the amusement park, they will most likely not be able to hold the park liable for damages.

“Liability for injuries sustained at an amusement park can be a complicated issue. If you have been injured at one of California’s many amusement parks, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured by a defective product and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at (760) 777-7777 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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