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5 Ways to Sue Over Theme Park Injuries

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Theme parks are the perfect place to go on a hot summer day, but they are also the ideal spot for slips, falls, and even drowning that can lead to injury.

So before you slap on your fanny pack and slather on some SPF 30, consider these five common ways you can sue for injuries at a theme park:

1. Rollercoaster Injuries.

Rollercoasters can lead to injuries and even death. Unfortunately that was the case for a 3-year-old boy in 2011 who fell to his death from a coaster at an Illinois theme park.

If someone dies while on a roller coaster, they may sue for wrongful death under the following legal theories:

  • Negligent operation. This alleges the park did not use the proper standard of care when operating the ride, especially when dealing with kids.
  • Design/product defect. Perhaps the designer or manufacturer of the ride designed or constructed an unsafe rollercoaster.
  • Improper maintenance. The park can also be held liable if staffers did not properly maintain the ride, causing it to malfunction.

2. Water Slide Accidents.

Nothing can be more fun or dangerous than a slick tube of rushing water that propels the human body, unprotected, at high speed into a pool. Theme parks can be sued for negligence over child drownings on their water rides, even if the injured kid has signed an injury waiver.

3. When Animals Attack.

While actually getting bitten by an animal at a zoo or theme park can be grounds for a lawsuit, witnessing a particularly horrific attack may allow you to sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress, depending on the circumstances. Remember the SeaWorld employee who got dragged underwater, "Jaws"-style, by a killer whale?

4. Food Poisoning.

Not that you'd be super-pleased about paying $40 for breakfast at Disneyland, but it can put you in an even worse mood if your huevos rancheros give you salmonella poisoning. Theme parks can be held liable just like restaurants for any illness related to serving unsafe food or food that doesn't comply with health and safety standards.

5. Someone Broke Into Your Car!

Once you're ready to leave the park, after an hour looking for your car, you may discover that a fun-hating thief has broken into your car.

If this happens in the theme park's parking lot, you may be able to sue under a theory of premises liability. To be successful, you'll likely have to prove that the park knew their parking lot was prone to car thefts, or that the park failed to provide proper security.

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