A Closer Look at Amusement Park Injuries in Southern California
Disney World is the world’s most popular vacation resort. This theme park draws over fifty-eight million visitors a year. Other theme parks in Greater Los Angeles, like Hogsmeade in North Hollywood and Super Silly Fun Land in Universal City, don’t draw nearly as many visitors. But, they’re still quite popular, especially among locals. To draw even more visitors, every year, these theme parks build taller and faster rides. At the same time, they often cut corners whenever possible, especially in areas like park maintenance.
To put it bluntly, most theme parks don’t care how many people come through the gates, or how many of them get hurt, as long as the park makes a tidy profit. Large companies only care about their bottom lines, but a Los Angeles personal injury attorney only cares about victim recovery. Physical recovery means connecting victims with doctors who provide the treatment they need, instead of the treatment they can afford. Financial recovery means obtaining compensation for their injuries in court.
Duty of Care
The duty of care has been a fundamental part of American law for more than a hundred years. As the world has changed over that time, the duty of care in premises liability claims has changed as well. California, which has long been on the cutting edge in legal affairs, uses a multi-prong approach to determine the duty of care in an amusement park ride, fall, or other such injury. Some factors to consider include:
- Owner’s Control: Apartment building owners don’t have exclusive control over individual units and hotel owners don’t have exclusive control over guest rooms. However, amusement park owners have exclusive control over almost every inch of a park.
- Likelihood of Visitors: Hotels, apartments, and amusement parks have something in common. They all want to attract as many visitors as possible.
- Likelihood of Harm: As mentioned, amusement park rides are always inherently dangerous. Controlled danger makes these rides “thrilling.” Falls are a serious risk as well, usually because these parks are covered in concrete.
- Knowledge of Hazard: This bullet point may be the most important one. Evidence of actual knowledge includes restroom cleaning reports and safety inspection results. Evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) is admissible as well. The longer a hazard existed, the more likely it is the owner should have addressed it.
All these factors point to a high duty of care in amusement park accident cases, especially if the owner knew about, and ignored, the injury hazard. The higher the duty of care, the easier it is for a Los Angeles personal injury attorney to prove negligence, or a lack of care.
A bare-bones negligence claim isn’t enough to obtain maximum compensation. Common insurance company defenses in these matters include comparative fault and assumption of the risk.
Basically, comparative fault shifts blame for an injury from the tortfeasor (negligent party) to the victim. If Lisa falls at an amusement park, an insurance company lawyer basically argues that she failed to mind her surroundings and so she is legally responsible for her own injuries.
In some states, partial responsibility means little or no compensation. But California is a pure comparative fault state. No matter how high the victim’s share of responsibility is, even if it’s 99 percent, the tortfeasor is responsible for a proportionate share of damages.
Assumption of the risk often centers on the fine print on the back of the ticket. This fine print, which is usually on gray paper and in only slightly darker gray ink, usually includes a statement like “management not responsible for personal injuries.”
These contracts usually aren’t contracts. Instead, they are illegal take-it-or-leave-it contracts of adhesion, much like those user agreements on websites. In either case, ticket holders must agree to the terms as is, or else they cannot enter the park or use the website. There’s absolutely no freedom of choice.Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.
Credit: Photo on Freepik
Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.