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.
Florida 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:
2. Breach of Duty;
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.