If You Are Injured at a Water Park, Who Is Responsible?
Millions of people in the U.S. go to water parks throughout the year. There are hundreds of water parks open during the summer and even some indoor resorts open year round. Water parks are somewhere families can go to enjoy the day drifting along lazy rivers, soaking up the sun, and racing down exciting slides and inner tube rides.
Unfortunately, people of all ages get hurt at water parks. People can suffer all kinds of minor-to-serious injuries. Some of the most common wounds are:
- Falling: Water parts of have two major fall risks, the first from slipping on wet surfaces and the second being falling from a tall height. The higher the better for water park slides and attractions, which means guests often have to climb numerous flights of stairs to get to the top. If the stairs and railings not well maintained, someone can fall to the ground or pool below. Falling can lead to broken bones, head injuries, and drowning.
- Concussions: There are numerous ways to hit your head and get a concussion at a water park, like slipping and falling or while on a ride. Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries. Normally a person will recover in a few weeks, but concussions have been known to cause lingering effects like headaches and sensitivity to light. A person can briefly lose consciousness when they suffer a concussion, which increases the risk of drowning.
- Cuts: Guests can suffer lacerations from broken plastic on rides and attractions, loose screws and bolts, jagged concrete, or glass on the ground. People need to pay close attention to cuts because the amount of bacteria they can come into contact with at a busy water park could lead to infection.
- Neck and back: Many amusement park rides have guests lay on their backs or sit in inner tubes. If people end up going too fast, get turned around in the ride, or fall out of their inner tube, then they have an increased risk of hurting their neck or back, including muscles strains and fractured vertebrae.
- Spinal cord injuries: Guests can suffer more severe injuries from falling or unsafe rides such as spinal cord injuries. There are varying levels of spinal cord injuries, but they can result in loss of mobility, chronic pain, nerve damage, inability to control the bladder and bowels, and more.
- Near-drowning: If a person almost drowns, they could have brain damage from a lack of oxygen.
- Drowning: A common cause of death at waterparks is drowning. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of death for people of all ages and the second leading cause of death for children under 14.
Causes of Water Park Injuries
There are times in life when accidents simply happen. No one is particularly at fault. However, many water parks are a place that should be safe and fun for people of all ages. When someone is hurt at a water park, whether it is small and local park or large and draws in national crowds, it is usually because of how the premises are maintained or how well the staff does its job. The owner’s, manager’s, or/and staff’s negligent or reckless behavior may be what led to someone’s injuries.
Specific issues that cause water park injuries include:
- Inadequate lifeguard training;
- Lack of lifeguards on duty;
- Lifeguard error;
- Overly crowded pools;
- Improper warnings regarding hazards;
- Failure to enforce height and weight regulations;
- Too fast of rides;
- Too difficult of rides for guests to control;
- Inconsistent or lack of premises and ride inspections; and
- Lack of or poor maintenance on premises and rides.
Premise Liability for Businesses
If you or a loved one is hurt at a water park, your next thought is probably to ask yourself, who is responsible? The answer depends on the situation, but the owner of the park may be responsible.
Water park owners can be held responsible under what is known as premise liability if there is a dangerous defect or hazardous foreign substance on their property. Under premise liability law, the owner of any property has a duty to keep the area safe for guests. This is called the duty of ordinary care.
In terms of water parks, owners have a responsibility to safely maintain the pools, rides, locker rooms, food court, and all other areas of the park open to guests and staff. Owners must ensure that their staff consistently inspects the property to ensure there are no hazards that could harm guests. If a hazard is discovered, like broken glass or a loose segment on a ride, then that area needs to be close to patrons until the danger is corrected.
In some situations, the water park employee may be responsible for your injury. If the employee acted negligently or was intentionally reckless, then you may be able to hold him or her personally responsible and not the park. However, if the employee was negligent in the scope of their duties, you may be able to hold both the employee and water park responsible in court.
Did You Waive Your Rights to Sue?
Not every injury suffered at a water park can be blamed on the owners or employees. There are many incidents that could cause guests harm yet they have no right to sue the park or its employees.
In some situations, you assume the risk of injury when you consent to go on a ride. When guests pay to come into the park and then choose to go on rides, it is assumed that they understand the inherent risks of that activity. It is not surprising that something could go wrong on a 70 foot slide if patrons are not careful and follow directions. If you are injured on a water slide and your injury was one within the foreseeable risks of going down that ride, then you may not be able to hold the water park responsibility.
Also, if you signed a release of liability, you may have signed a document stating you agree to not sue the park or its employees if you are injured. Whether or not these documents are valid is a question for the court. If you were hurt and signed some sort of document at the park, speak with attorney right away to review your rights.
Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
If you or your child were injured while having a fun day at the water park, it is best to immediately speak with an determined personal injury lawyer in Atlanta GA. Whether or not your injury was an assumed risk or due to the owner or employee’s negligence often takes investigating the incident. When you are worried about you or your child getting better and dealing with the finances of the accident, you need an attorney you can rely on to delve into the case and thoroughly examine your legal options.
Call Ted A. Greve & Associates for a free consultation.