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A person running an amusement venue or theme parks has an obligation to take reasonable care to maintain and repair the premises and equipment to avoid accidents resulting in injury or damage to those using the venue.
Who is most at risk
Children are more vulnerable to amusement venue accidents than adults as they are less able to appreciate danger. People using amusement venues are generally paying customers who have an expectation that they will be safe while using the ride or venue. Amusements are different from a dangerous recreational activity in that although amusement rides are thrilling, they are not intended to be risky or dangerous. Therefore, the user cannot be expected to take the same level of responsibility for the risk of injury as a person participating in a dangerous sport or recreational activity such as sky diving.
When is the theme park operator held liable?
An amusement venue operator will not be held liable for all accidents that occur on its premises, however. They can only be liable for an accident where they have been negligent. Some amusement venue accidents occur despite the operator employing the highest safety standards and policies. Before an amusement venue operator can be held responsible for an injury to one of its users, the risk of injury occurring must have been reasonably foreseeable and have been reasonably preventable, with the operator failing to take the reasonable measures required to prevent the risk of injury.
How to keep customers safe
To avoid liability, an amusement venue operator should:
- check and maintain equipment regularly;
- ensure all equipment meets industry standards;
- fence off areas around rides to prevent people interfering with rides whilst in operation;
- supervise users at all times, particularly children, ensuring, for example, that their safety restraints are properly fitted and that they remain properly positioned on the ride;
- eject users who refuse to follow reasonable safety directions.
Liability for negligence disclaimers
Amusement venue operators frequently attempt to limit or exclude their liability for negligence through the use of disclaimers or waivers, excluding or restricting the duty to provide services with reasonable care and skill. To be valid, the person undertaking the activity must be made aware of the disclaimer at the point of entry into the activity when they are paying the entrance fee. To be valid, the exclusion clause must also be very carefully drafted to avoid being too narrow or vague. In some states, in order to be valid, exclusion clauses must be in a particular prescribed form.
Speak with us
If you have been injured in an amusement venue accident and you would like more information about how we can help, strict time limits apply, please contact us to make sure your interests and rights are protected.