When you visit your favorite theme park, you make a beeline for the newest ride. You wait in line for hours, awaiting your chance to experience the latest thrill. You're so excited that you pay little attention to posted signs about who shouldn't ride. Finally, you reach the head of the line, get strapped in, and take off for several minutes of scream-your-lungs-out fun.
Tourists and Floridians alike enjoy visiting these super-sized playgrounds. However, many guests pay little attention to the safety measures protecting park visitors from severe injury. If you're planning to visit a theme park this year, learn how park safety measures and your actions can protect you from injury.
How Parks Must Keep Guests Safe
Every quarter, Florida's theme parks must report serious injuries that occurred on their premises. For example, during the first quarter of 2015, 13 injuries requiring hospitalization happened at theme parks in the Sunshine State.
Considering the huge crowds theme parks attract each year, their guest injury rates stay pretty low. Most visitors come and go from the park without incident-but accidents still occur. The most commonly reported injuries are head, neck, and back injuries like whiplash.
To keep accidents infrequent, parks enact numerous safety measures. Here's a short list of how parks work to keep guests safe:
Perform safety testing on rides. That includes thorough testing before unveiling new rides and ongoing tests to ensure old rides meet safety standards.
Have sufficient trained staff on duty to perform safety checks. On rides, park employees must watch out for potential hazards, such as seat belts that don't buckle securely. At water parks, staff must include enough lifeguards to monitor everyone swimming or sliding.
Control wild animals. Guests should not have easy access to wild animals without proper supervision, and animal enclosures should be secure to prevent escape.
Keep grounds and other facilities in good repair. Theme parks have the same legal safety standards as other businesses. Their restaurants must meet health department requirements, and their grounds should be free from hazards like open construction zones.
Restrict who can ride. Parks have final say over who can ride. You're likely familiar with height requirements, but some rides have weight restrictions too.
Ask guests to sign waivers. Some parks offer special attractions for extra fees. Guests often have to sign waivers before parks allow guests to enjoy these thrills. A waiver may or may not affect your rights to seek compensation if you get injured on the ride, so ask a lawyer for advice.
What Guests Should Do to Stay Safe Although theme parks have primary responsibility for safety, guests also have safety responsibilities. In most cases, guests simply need to exercise common sense and follow the rules. For example, guests should follow directions from park employees and on posted signs. Don't put your hands up on a ride if verbal and written warnings say not to.
Remember those long warning signs posted somewhere in line for every ride? Pay attention to their warnings too. They'll usually tell what kinds of thrills to expect so you don't get on a ride that you'll hate. Similarly, read these signs if you have a medical condition. People with common conditions, like high blood pressure or pregnancy, should stay off most big rides.
When Injuries Occur
Unfortunately, serious injuries still occur occasionally at theme parks. You may not be able to foresee all incidents that could happen to you, and you shouldn't have to. In some instances, the theme park could have done something to prevent your accident. Sometimes a theme park failed to put up a sign or test a ride sufficiently, leading to injury.
If you experienced an injury while visiting a theme park, contact a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will review the circumstances of your injury and help you discover if you have a case.