Articles Posted in Attractions & Theme Parks

Resort Florida Liability and NegligenceIn Florida and other states, children are welcomed as guests at hotels, motels, and resorts. There are a few vacation areas that are adult guests only; however, the vast majority of these locations are family oriented and set up in many ways to provide for the guests who are children.  Rooms and areas of the resort are constructed and designed just for children.   Because children are welcomed as guests, the hotel / resort staff and management should maintain the facility and activities at the facility in a way to takes into account the safety of children.  It is well know that children lack good safety awareness and judgment.  Because of this, attractive nuisances should be kept at a minimum or at least secured in a way that a child cannot go inside a dangerous area without proper access and adult supervision. Take for example, a swimming pool or aquatics area.   Proper fencing, enclosures, and alarms should be in place so that a child, especially toddlers, do not have access to or wander into the area.  Like other personal injury cases, the following elements must be established:
1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;

 No Swimming.001During the past week, I have lectured and written on the issue of negligence, child injuries, and the unfortunate and tragic incident that took place at the Walt Disney World Resort – Orlando where a 2 year old child was attacked and ultimately drowned by an alligator.  It has been reported that there were “No Swimming” signs posted in or near the area.  Some people, who I have spoken to, believe that this fact should then be a bar to recovery if there is a claim or case pursued by the parents of the child who died.  Florida is a state that has adopted a Comparative Fault system for the pursuit and trial of personal injury cases.  In other words, even if an injury victim is comparatively or partially at fault, there can still be a case pursued on behalf of the injury victim and / or the injury victim’s family.   It should also be noted that there are some special laws in place in Florida when a child is injured.  For instance, in the State of Florida, a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held liable, responsible, or partially at fault as a matter of law.  As such, a 2 year old cannot be comparatively at fault as a matter of law even though there were “No Swimming” signs that were posted.  However, a parent, as a third party of sorts, can be held liable, responsible, or partially at fault if the parent’s actions or inactions contributed in whole or part to the situation or incident taking place.
As for the Disney alligator attack, it has been reported that there were “No Swimming” signs posted.  The family of the 2 year old were from Nebraska and may not have been aware of the presence of alligators throughout the State of Florida in its rivers, lakes, canals, ponds, and lagoons.  Furthermore, the sign read “No Swimming”.   The reason for the posting of the sign could have included any of the following:
*There was no regular lifeguard in the area.

Alligator Warning.001
By David Wolf, Child Injury Lawyer
The State of Florida is a tourist destination for millions of visitors every year. In Florida, we have beaches, resorts, theme parks, water parks, lakes, rivers, ponds, lagoons, and a number of alligators.  Certainly, personal injuries caused by an automobile accident are far more common than personal injuries caused by an alligator attack.  As such, there are literally thousands of appellate cases and rulings associated with personal injuries and automobile accidents.  On the other hand, the laws and appellate cases associated with alligator attacks are quite sparse.  A recent incident at Walt Disney World Orlando made national headline news.  Unfortunately, it focused media attention in the State of Florida and Orlando for a tragedy rather than any kind of celebration.  More importantly and more tragically, a Nebraska family, who innocently was just trying to enjoy the “Magic” of Walt Disney World Orlando, will be heading home with one less family member who was attacked and dragged away by an alligator at the Seven Seas Lagoon.
In Palumbo v. State Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission, 487 So.2d 352 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 1986), a personal injury victim (Christopher Palumbo) sought the review of a trial court order granting summary judgment for the defendant – the State of Florida. In other words, the trial court threw out the personal injury victim’s case.  The trial court ruled that the evidence, when considered in the light most favorable to the injury victim, was insufficient to support a claim or case for negligence against the State of Florida.  Mr. Palumbo was injured at the University of Florida – Lake Wauberg Recreational Park. He noticed that a boat had capsized.  Mr Palumbo decided to swim out to the boat to help the boaters with a repair.  As he was swimming towards the boat, Mr. Palumbo was attacked by an alligator and he was injured.   Mr. Palumbo later filed a lawsuit against the State of Florida Game and Fresh Water Commission.  The trial court threw out the case and determined that the State of Florida was not required to fence and was not required to otherwise keep alligators out of the area.  The trial court further noted that Mr. Palumbo disregarded warning signs that were posted at the recreational park / facility.  The First District Court of Appeal affirmed the rulings of the trial court.  The First District Court of Appeal noted that the State of Florida did not have a duty to guard the visitor against harm from an alligator unless the alligator was reduced to the possession of the State of Florida or the alligator was not indigenous to the locality.  The First District Court of Appeal further noted that Mr. Palumbo ignored clear warning signs at the facility which, in turn, was the sole proximate cause of his personal injuries.  In addition to “No Swimming” signs posted at the recreational park, there were a variety of signs warning of and referencing the presence of alligators in the area including one sign that read “Unlawful to Feed Alligators” and another sign that read “Don’t Feed or Molest . . . “ with a large graphic of an alligator on it.  In the Palumbo case, there were clear warning signs of alligators in the area which appeared to be an important part of the rulings of the trial court and the appellate court.

orlando-vector-doodle_GJ7pbFLO_LWalt Disney World Orlando advertises itself as one of the “Happiest Places on Earth”.  For millions of visitors every year, it is quite a happy and joyful place filled with rides, cartoon characters, and adventures; however, for many children and their families, Walt Disney World Orlando happens to be a placed filled with horrific memories, significant personal injuries, tragedy, and even the untimely and wrongful death of a visitor from children to teens to adults. Certainly, Walt Disney World Orlando welcomes children and families to its many theme parks, attractions, resorts, and hotels.  As such, it is important that Walt Disney World Orlando provide a safe and well maintained environment with the full knowledge that every day families and young children will be on the premises.   This duty extends to all areas of the park and resorts including but not limited to the attractions, rides, restaurants, hotels, lobby areas, swimming pool areas, recreation areas, and yes, the other aquatic areas whether man-made or natural in the form of lakes, ponds, canals, lagoons, and other areas.   It is incumbent upon Walt Disney World Orlando to patrol the areas, maintain the areas, clean up the areas, and post prominent signage about potential dangers that may include those related to electrical and wildlife.  If an area has the potential for significant injury or death, this particular area should either be closed off, modified, and / or posted with prominent signage.

A recent incident at Walt Disney World Orlando left a family and community in shock when an alligator from the Seven Seas Lagoon lunged out of the water and grabbed a 2 year old who was standing in or near the water with his father.  The boy, who was vacationing with his family from Nebraska, was attacked by the alligator.  While the father tried to do his best to stop the attack and save his son, he was unable to do so.  It was reported that there were signs in the area that advised visitors about the designation of a “No Swimming” area.  There may not have been any warnings or signage about the presence of dangerous wildlife including but not limited to alligators.  Certainly, this incident was and is a complete and utter nightmare for the family visiting the “Magic Kingdom” from Nebraska.  The incident was immediately reported to Walt Disney World Orlando officials, resort staff and management, local law enforcement, and Florida Wildlife Law Enforcement officers.  You can read more about this tragedy at KETV Omaha, Nebraska – Alligator Attacks and Drags 2 Year Old Nebraska Boy at Walt Disney World Orland Resort – Seven Seas Lagoon. 

The injury and / or wrongful of a child is a harrowing experience.  Certainly, as parents, we work day and night to provide for our children’s safety, health, and welfare.  When a child is injured or when a child dies as a result of the negligence of another person, business entity, or government entity, a parent is faced with a number of life, medical, and legal challenges. Certainly, it is important that these trying times to be supported by family members, friends, community, medical professionals, clergy, community, and, yes, when necessary an experienced and caring Florida Child Injury Lawyer.  Big businesses are supported day / night by in-house and retained legal counsel essentially on a 24 / 7 basis. There are risk management and insurance risk management adjuster in place to advise and protect the companies.  As such, injury victims and their families also deserve legal representation to make that legal rights are protected, enforced, and preserved as needed especially in the aftermath of significant personal injuries and /or wrongful death.

Ferris Wheel - Amusement Park InjuriesFlorida is a tourist destintation in part because of the warm weather, beaches, and, yes the variety of theme parks including but not limited to Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and Lego Land.  When a person is injured at a Florida theme park, there are many questions, issues, and challenges that arise.  Believe me, the theme park managers and workers are well aware of the risk of injury to guests. In addition, the managers and workers have been trained and instructed as to the potential for lawsuits and insurance claims from these incidents.  If an incident report is prepared, there is no duty that the theme park provide the guest a copy.  Furthermore, the preparation of the incident report is not to make the claim easier for the guest but to document the circumstances of the incident especially the actions by the staff to defend the case in the future if a claim or lawsuit is pursued by the guest.   Here are the four basic elements that need to be proved to establish a case or claim against a Florida theme park:
1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;

Resort - Beach - Personal InjuriesFlorida is a well known tourist destination for parents, children, and families across the nation as well as the rest of the world. After all, we have Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and, yes, Lego Land. In addition to these well known attractions and theme parks, we have beaches and coast line in all part of Florida including the Panhandle, Florida Keys, and elsewhere.  For most vacationers, the time spent in Florida is quite enjoyable.  For some, the worst that happens on a trip to Florida is a bit of sunburn and mild exhaustion from all of the sites to see and visit. For others, the Florida vacation marks the time in which a child or another friend or family member suffers a serious personal injury.  For some, Florida marks the spot where a person dies as a result of the negligence or carelessness of another person, business, or government entity.
When a person is visiting from another state or country, where should the case or claim be filed if the incident takes place in the State of Florida?  The typical answer to this question is the State of Florida.  If an accident or incident takes place in the State of Florida, a claim or case can be brought because of Florida laws allows for the pursuit of a claim or case regardless of residency in or outside of Florida.   Jurisdiction would be proper for the following types of cases:  automobile accident, playground injury, premises liability case, slip and fall, pedestrian accidents, and other types of incidents.
It should be noted that the laws related to the rights of compensation vary from State to State and can even vary from the type of case pursued.  The personal injury related laws in the State of Florida can be quite restrictive.  There are notice provisions for certain cases and all personal injury cases are subject to one or more statute of limitations.  Because of the complexity of Florida law, a parent should contact a Florida Child Injury Lawyer for advice, guidance, and legal representation to advocate for the best interests of the child and to secure the rightful compensation on behalf of the injured child.

vibrant swimming pool side with ladder

Swimming Pool Drowning

Disney and other theme parks are magical.  For some, they are a place where dreams come true.  For others, they are a place that sadly are a reminder of a horrible tragedy in the form of a death or a serious personal injury of a child.   It was recently reported that a 3 year old child drowned at the Disney World – Art of Animation Resort located in Kissimmee (Orlando), Florida.  It was reported that the 3 year old child was found in the pool at approximately 8:00 p.m.  The child was found underwater.   The child was then taken to a local hospital where the child was pronounced dead.   What a terrible ordeal for all involved.

There are a number of legal and safety issues involved with an incident that takes place at Disney World and other theme parks.   First, it is well known that Disney and other theme parks cater to children and families.  The marketing dollars and attractions are geared to attracting children and their families to visit the park and, yes, spend money.  Disney and other theme parks have a business to run and there is nothing wrong with that; however, with the operation of any business, there is a responsibility to maintain the property and common areas in a reasonably safe condition.  Can all incidents leading to injury be prevented?  The answer is certainly no.  However, Disney, theme parks, and hotels have a duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition taking into consideration the needs, abilities, and disabilities of the guests including but not limited to children, toddlers, and infants.   Toddlers are unique guests.   They can walk and tend to wander and explore.   It is well known with toddlers that they lack good safety awareness and often fail to follow instructions.  In the State of Florida, the disabilities and poor judgment of toddlers and other young children are built into the law.  A child under the age of 6 years old in the State of Florida can be held liable for comparatively at fault for his or her actions.   However, this does not absolve a parent or other family member of the responsibility to supervise and monitor the child.

First Aid Kit - Child InjuryOver the summer and other times of year, children can spend hours of time enjoying the fun and activity in a bounce house.   It should be noted that with any bounce house activity or similar activity – a child could suffer injuries through no fault of the property owner, management company, or owner / renter of the bounce house.  Injuries happen; however, it should also be noted that many bounce house related activities result from a lack of proper set up and / or a lack of proper adult supervision. Let’s discuss an example.  Let’s say a homeowner rents a bounce house.  The homeowner’s four year old and his friend (also 4 years old) are playing in the bounce house.  The homeowner decides to leave the children alone to cook a meal and check on some e-mails.  While the boys are outside in the bounce house, another child, who is 12 years old and much larger than the other children, visits the home and bounces in the bounce house with the 4 year old boys.   The 12 year old is doing a back flip and lands on the 4 year old child who was visiting the home.   The boy suffers a fractured leg and is treated at a local emergency room and later by an orthopedic surgeon.   Under this general fact scenario, there would be a case or claim to pursue against the homeowner for failure to supervise the children.  Had the homeowner been properly supervising the bounce house area, the 12 year old would be been kept out of the bounce house until the 4 year old boys needed a break and then the 12 year old boy – who had visited the home on many occasions and was a friend of the family – could have safely used the bounce house on his owner.   Like other personal injury cases, there are essentially four elements to establish a claim or case against a homeowner for negligence:
1. Duty;
 
2. Breach of Duty;

Carousel Personal InjuryEvery year, millions of children visit Florida theme parks, water parks, amusement parks, and attractions. For most people, the experience is a positive one and often leads to memories that last a lifetime. Unfortunately for some children,  water parks and theme parks are also the sites of serious personal injuries. Some children even die while visiting a theme park, amusement park, attraction, or water park.  What are the legal rights of the child or family of a child when there is an injury to a child at one of these Florida vacation spots or attractions?  It should be noted that theme parks, property owners, management companies, and tenants are not absolute insurers of the safety of a child.  In other words, just becase an injury takes place on premises does not mean that the owner, operator, or management company is liable for the injury sustained by the child. Each case should be should be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.
Here are some questions arise when a child suffers personal injuries at a  theme park, attraction, amusement park, or water park.
What were the circumstances leading to the injury?

Fun-fair.jpgDisney World is a major attraction in Orlando, Florida. It is known worldwide as a place “Where Dreams Come True”. There is certainly something magical and special about Disney World and all of the wonderful characters, rides, and attractions at the Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Dowtown Disney, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Complex, and Disney’s Boardwalk. Due to the shear size of Disney World and all of its attractions, properties, hotels, restaurants, and water parks, injuries to both adults and children are bound to happen. With any kind of physical activity, there is always a risk of injury which then presents the following question:

Is Disney World Orlando Liable for All Injuries that Take Place at the Park?

The simple answer is “No”. The reason that the answer is simple is because of the use of the word – ALL – in the question above. Disney is not an insurer or guarantor that injuries will never happen on its properties. For instance, let’s assume that a guest is walking down Main Street and twists her ankle. Soon thereafter, the ankle begins to swell and she gets some assistance from the Disney staff in the form of a wheelchair and an ice pack. Is Disney responsible for this incident? Let’s put in a few additional facts. The guest was merely walking down Main Street which was clean, level, and free from any hidden or not do hidden hazards or obstacles. The ankle of the guest twisted through no fault whatsover of Disney. Under this fact scenario, Disney would not be legally responsible for the injuries, bills, or pain and suffering.