Florida’s theme parks are legendary. They are among the greatest tourism draws in the state, aside from the beaches, with millions paying hard-earned money for a chance to meet their favorite movie characters or climb aboard a thrill ride.
But the industry is not as tightly regulated as one might think. While the Department of Agriculture is responsible for inspecting amusement park rides and carnivals, the state’s largest theme parks – Universal, Disney and Sea World – are exempted from that oversight from the state. The reason is because those parks have more than 1,000 workers and also full-time inspectors on staff. Lobbyists for the industry fought hard for those exemptions.
Critics have rightfully asserted that having internal inspectors investigate park-related accidents is a clear conflict of interests. When inspectors are paid for by the parks.
That’s why it’s so important for anyone who has suffered an injury as a result of an amusement park accident in Florida to seek experienced legal counsel immediately. Our attorneys will work swiftly to ensure your injuries are thoroughly documented, and we will launch our own investigation of the circumstances which lead to the accident. The sooner we are involved, the more improved your chances of financial recovery.
Although the state of Florida does not regulate its three biggest theme parks, the parks do have an agreement to voluntarily report injuries and illnesses reported at their parks. Not all incidents are reported. Only those that require a 24-hour hospital stay or result in death.
The parks recently released their first quarter injury reports for 2015. Walt Disney World reported six injuries while Universal Orlando studios reported seven. Meanwhile, Legoland, Wet ‘n Wild and SeaWorld reported none.
One of the recurring incidents to be reported in the first part of this year involved the Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal. Three people reportedly became seriously ill after the ride. One was a 69-year-old man who reported chest discomfort. Another was a man in his early 50s with a pre-existing condition who reported difficultly moving his extremities after exiting the ride. Finally, a 76-year-old woman reported she experienced an “altered mental status” as a result of the ride.
Other injuries include a 44-year-old woman who suffered back pain as a result of a ride, a 20-year-old man who suffered severe motion sickness, a 41-year-old man whose back was injured on a ride and a 5-year-old girl who suffered an arm injury at Camp Jurassic.
At Disney parks, injuries included a 64-year-old man who injured his ankle stepping out of car and several others who felt weak, numb, shaky, dizzy or even lost consciousness after exiting certain rides.
The reported incidents did not include a Disney employee killed in a Lamborghini racing crash in mid-April, when a novice driver lost control of the sports car and wrecked. The driver was also injured, though he will recover fully. That incident is still under investigation.
There continues to be argument over whether amusement parks should be exempt from state or even federal oversight, considering we’re talking about machines that hurtle riders forward at speeds in excess of 100 miles-per-hour. Child strollers are subject to more regulations than these machines.
Because of the severity of injuries that can result, contact a law firm you can trust.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Theme parks report first-quarter injuries, April 27, 2015, By Sandra Pedicini, Orlando Sentinel
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