Who Is Liable for Amusement Park Accidents?

Amusement parks are places where families can go to enjoy the rides, eat some relatively unhealthy food, and go home happy. However, what happens if an injury occurs on an amusement park ride? What happens if a person gets injured in a slip and fall accident while walking through the amusement park?

Even though this is something that does not happen to most people, the reality is that there are times when injuries occur at amusement parks. It is crucial to know who could be held liable in the event you or a loved one sustain an injury at an amusement park anywhere in the state of California. Continue reading to learn more about who can be held liable for theme park injuries or speak with an Irvine premises liability attorney.

Brief Overview of Premises Liability

Premises liability laws dictate what happens if a person is injured on someone else’s property. These laws determine who will be held liable if the condition of a building, land, or another type of premises causes injury.

Laws will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but premises liability typically recognizes three types of individuals who can be on a premises – trespassers, licensees, and invitees. Property owners will owe different degrees of care to each type of these individuals.

Amusement Parks – Invitees or Trespassers

Those who come into amusement parks will either be an invitee or a trespasser. In other words, those who go to an amusement park will typically be admitted after they pay, or they will be individuals who are trespassing either during regular business hours or after the park has closed.

Amusement park operators are required to maintain every aspect of the park to ensure it is safe for those who have a right to be there – the invitees. This includes maintaining all of the rides as well as the buildings, walkways, etc. If the operator of the amusement park knows or should have known about a dangerous condition, they have a duty to warn the individuals who are rightfully in the park. Failing to do so could result in a breach of duty of care.

Amusement park operators do not owe any duty of care to trespassers other than the responsibility to not cause intentional and unnecessary harm to them. So long as the amusement park grounds and rides are operated properly, and individuals understand when they are entering an off-limits area, amusement park operators will usually not be held liable for injuries to trespassers.

In the event an injury does occur to an invitee, there may be various parties who could be held liable for the injury:

  • Ride operator error. If a ride operator makes a mistake that leads to an amusement park attendee sustaining an injury, then the amusement park operator or owner will likely be held responsible. So long as the ride operator was acting within the scope of their duties when the incident occurred, the employer will hold liability for their actions.
  • Mechanical failure. Amusement rides must be properly inspected and maintained. Failing to do so could result in the amusement park operator or owner holding liability if an accident occurs.
  • Design flaw. If an amusement park accident occurs because of a poorly designed or defective ride, then a third-party company or manufacturer may be held responsible for any injuries that occur.
  • Slip and fall accidents. The entire premises of an amusement park must be properly maintained. If a slip and fall accident occurs because of wet steps, unsafe platforms, or any other hazardous conditions on the walkway, the amusement park owner or operator will likely be held liable.