Visiting a theme park in Texas should not end in a trip to the hospital…yet this is exactly the experience hundreds of people suffer each year. Dangerous amusement park rides, slippery floor surfaces, spoiled food, unsanitary pools and other hazards could cause serious premises liability related injuries. Some of the most horrific injuries in history have included limb amputations, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe lacerations, accidental drowning and wrongful death. The theme park may be legally responsible for guest injuries if it should have prevented the incident.
Theme Park Safety Rules and Regulations
Theme and amusement parks in Texas must abide by certain laws and safety best practices. This involves designing safe rides, properly installing them and keeping up with ride maintenance. These laws come from federal, state and local sources. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, however, does not have jurisdiction over amusement parks or water parks. It can only oversee the safety of mobile rides. Instead, it is the state and local governments’ duty to regulate theme parks in Texas. They do so through the Amusement Ride Safety & Inspection Act.
- Operational requirements
- Insurance requirements
- Daily inspections and inspection reports
- Safety nets for certain rides
- Closing dangerous rides during investigations
- Warning riders of potential risks
All amusement parks have a duty to exercise reasonable care. This duty can refer to many individual actions and obligations, from performing regular ride inspections to cleaning up spilled drinks promptly. Anything a reasonable and prudent amusement park would do to protect guests from injuries will become part of a park’s duty of care in Texas. It is negligence if a theme park breaches its duty of care to guests, resulting in guest injuries or deaths. A breach of duty could come from the theme park itself or one of its employees.
Texas Premises Liability Laws
A theme park could be responsible for guest injuries if it should have done more to prevent the injury. If the theme park broke a state law, ignored a safety regulation or was negligent in its duty to exercise reasonable care, an injured guest could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit based on the doctrine of premises liability. Premises liability laws apply to theme park and amusement park accident claims in Texas. The rules of premises liability state that property owners owe certain duties to guests depending on their statuses.
- Guests at theme parks are invitees, or guests the property owner invites to enter the premises. Landowners owe invitees the greatest standards of care. They must search the property for defects, repair known hazards and warn visitors of potential risks.
- A licensee is someone who enters the theme park upon invitation, but for his or her own purposes, such as to make repairs. Theme park owners do not owe a duty to search for hidden hazards before welcoming licensees onto the property.
- A theme park will not owe a trespasser any duties of care other than the duty not to cause intentional injuries. An important exception is if the trespasser is under the age of 18, in which case the theme park must ensure the property’s reasonable safety.
It is important to understand one’s classification as a guest at a theme park. This will determine what duties of care, if any, the theme park owed the guest. If the guest was an invitee and suffered a property-related injury such as a slip and fall, the theme park could be responsible for the guest’s damages. The injured party will have to prove the theme park reasonably could have prevented the accident, yet negligently failed to do so. A successful claim could help a theme park accident victim move forward.