Who Is Liable for Waterpark Injuries?
Waterparks are meant to be a fun, exciting way to cool off during the summer months. But unfortunately, inattentive staff, poorly maintained equipment, and other factors led to an estimated 27,000 amusement park-related injuries in 2013.
Water rides are disproportionately more likely to cause injury, as compared to roller coasters, go-karts, and other amusement park rides. Only 11 percent of New Jersey’s amusement park rides are water-based, but 40 percent of total amusement park injuries occur on water rides (including wave pools, play areas, surfing rides, and slides). Water slides alone account for 22 percent of amusement park injuries over the last five years.
Determining liability in a large organization like a waterpark can be difficult. The liable party will depend on what type of negligence led to the injury.
Keeping a waterpark ride safe requires:
- Adequate restraints
- Regular maintenance
- Employee supervision
- Safety instructions for potential riders
- Functional equipment/rides
Waterpark employees will be held liable for injuries in certain instances. If a waterpark employee failed to exercise reasonable care—and that failure to exercise reasonable care resulted in an injury—then he or she could be held liable. “Failure to exercise reasonable care” would include failure to supervise children on a ride, failure to ensure that riders are properly secured, and failure to keep the park clean and safe for patrons (within the scope of the expectations of their position).
Waterpark owners can shoulder liability under different circumstances. Owners and operators carry a large burden of responsibility when it comes to safety in a waterpark. They must ensure their rides are up to code with regular inspections, they must regularly maintain the rides to minimize safety hazards, and they are required to post safety instructions (or warnings) for potential riders. If a waterpark owner fails to live up to his or her duty and a patron is injured as a result, it could open them up to liability.
Ride manufacturers can also be on the hook for amusement park-related injuries. If someone is injured on a waterpark ride because of a design (or manufacturing) defect, the manufacturer could be held liable for those injuries under product liability law.
But it is important to note that park operators and employees are not always liable for ride-related injuries. Waterpark patrons are expected to follow posted signs and warnings for all rides; if failure to follow safety instructions results in an injury, the rider could be out of luck in terms of compensation. For example, if riders are instructed to keep hands and legs inside the car and a rider is injured because he chose to stick his arm out anyway, the waterpark owner or staff would most likely avoid liability for the injury.
Amusement park and waterpark incidents can lead to serious and devastating injuries, and determining liability is not always easy. Contacting anexperienced personal injury lawyer is the best way to determine who should be held liable for your waterpark-related injury.