A water park is a specific type of amusement park that features activities involving all things water, such as:
- Swimming pools;
- Water slides;
- Lazy rivers;
- Water rides (e.g., log flumes); and
- Various other types of similar attractions.
While water parks are generally viewed as a place to relax and have a good time with your family and friends, you should be cautious when visiting one because they can be very dangerous.
Visitors face many risks when entering a water park. Aside from the more obvious injuries, like slipping and falling on a wet pool deck or drowning, the environment is a breeding ground for different kinds of bacteria that can make you sick and not every park keeps up with the proper safety requirements.
Although not all hazards or injuries necessarily lead to grounds for a lawsuit, water parks do owe a high duty of care to their guests and certain matters will give rise to liability if the water park has breached this duty of care.
Thus, if you have been involved in an accident or other injury during your visit to a water park, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately for further assistance.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Water Park Injury?
Depending on the facts of the case, various parties can be held accountable for injuries that occur in a water park. Some of these parties include the owners of the water park, employees, other visitors, and sometimes even the manufacturers or distributors of the rides and equipment being used in the park.
For example, if an employee of the park does not follow the proper safety protocols while operating a water ride or instructing visitors how to use a water slide, then both the employee and the owner may be sued if a visitor suffers an injury due to their actions.
In such an instance, the patron could bring a suit against the employee for negligence by showing that their injuries resulted from the negligent actions of the employee and that the employee failed to exercise the level of care that is necessary when working at a water park.
That employee’s supervisor and the water park’s owner may also be liable under the negligence theory that is known as vicarious liability. Vicarious liability often applies in these types of situations where the person can be held accountable for the actions of someone else.
Here, the supervisor and owner could be held as vicariously liable for their employee’s negligence because of the high level of care required by water parks and because they were most likely trained and hired by them, meaning the employee was acting under their direction and supervision.
An owner or operator can also be held liable if they knew about a dangerous condition in the water park, but failed to repair or protect visitors from being harmed by it. For example, if pool drains are missing covers or water slides have holes in them, they could face serious legal consequences if a patron is injured.
Also, if the slide or ride was defective to begin with due to an error made by the manufacturer, then the claimant can also bring a products liability suit.
Finally, visitors may be able to sue other visitors if they suffered a harm due to their careless actions or for failure to follow proper safety rules.
Again, the circumstances surrounding the incident will dictate the type of claim that a plaintiff can bring as well as highlight the potential persons who can be sued for the resulting injuries.
What are Some Common Types of Water Park Injuries?
Some common types of water park injuries include:
- Slip and fall related injuries, such as brain, neck or spinal cord injuries;
- Mechanical errors that lead to serious harm;
- Water slide injuries, e.g., lacerations or broken bones;
- Certain illnesses or parasites;
- Harm resulting from being trapped in a pool drain; and
- Various other accidents that occur when people and businesses do not exercise the proper level of care.
Depending on the jurisdiction and the facts of the case, a person may also be able to sue for emotional distress.
What Evidence Do I Need to Prove a Water Park Injury?
The type of evidence that a plaintiff needs to prove will depend on what kind of claim they are bringing.
For instance, if a person is bringing a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the equipment installed in the water park, then they will need to show that no level of care could have prevented the injury and that a reasonable, affordable, alternative design could have stopped the injury from ever happening.
One of the most common actions brought against a water park is usually for negligence. For negligence, the plaintiff will need to show that the employee had a duty to exercise the necessary standard of care found in water parks, that they breached this duty, and that the breach was the cause of the visitor’s injuries.
The court will also look at certain factors to assess damages. Again, depending on the case, the court may possibly consider how many incidents occurred at a particular park and if they are of the same types of incidents. This might show that they have a pattern of carelessness and repeatedly put their patrons at risk.
Additionally, specific to damages, the court will look at a party’s age, whether the party contributed to their injuries by not behaving properly, whether another visitor interfered with the party, if this was an extraordinary or freak occurrence, and so on.
What are Some Common Defenses Against a Water Park Injury?
As with the evidence, the defenses that are available to the defendants named in water park lawsuits will also depend on the facts of each case. Some of these might include:
- Assumption of Risk: This type of defense is only available in some states. In water park lawsuits, the defendants will usually attempt to show that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury when they signed a liability waiver to use the equipment in the park.
- Courts do not normally enforce these kinds of waivers, especially when they are written in language that only lawyers can understand.
- Superseding Cause: A superseding cause can relieve the defendant of liability. This occurs when another cause breaks the chain of liability between the defendant and the plaintiff’s actual harm. In other words, someone or something else caused the injury other than the defendant.
- Act of God: A defendant cannot be held responsible for events that are found to be outside of human control, such as tornadoes or hurricanes.
Contingent on the laws of the state, some jurisdictions reduce the amount of damages or remove all liability from the defendant if the injury was caused by the plaintiff’s actions or if the plaintiff was at least more than partially responsible for their own injuries.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue a Water Park for an Injury?
Lawsuits involving water parks have a tendency to become quite complicated, especially if multiple parties are involved. There are different types of actions that you can bring, various kinds of remedies that you can ask for as the victim, and multiple defenses available to the defendant depending on the facts of the case.
Also, there may be different standards of laws that apply, as well as separate statutes for every state. Therefore, if you are involved in a lawsuit stemming from injuries that occurred at a water park, you should strongly consider contacting a local personal injury lawyer for assistance with your claim.
A qualified lawyer will be able to help you map out strategies for your case, can conduct legal research for relevant information, and provide representation on your behalf in court. They also may be able to assess whether it would be in your best interest to settle the case, rather than going to trial.