The busiest time for Pennsylvania amusement parks is in the summer. Parks such as Dorney Park, Hershey Park, Sesame Place and Dutch Wonderland are visited by numerous visitors each day. Unfortunately, accidents happen at these amusement parks as well. From going on rides to slipping and falling in the parks, injuries can and do occur.
If riders are injured from riding a ride, a cause of action may be made against the ride operator for negligently operating the ride.
Pennsylvania’s Amusement Rider Safety and Liability Act, 4 P.S. Section 502 defines the rider as:
A person 14 years of age or older utilizing an amusement ride. The term includes any person who is an invitee, whether or not the person pays consideration.
The same section also defines an amusement ride operator as:
Any person, firm or corporation that is engaged in operating for the public an amusement structure or ride at a permanent amusement or water park.
Amusement park ride operators will be held liable for injuries to riders if they fail to use reasonable care in the management of the rides and the conduct of the riders. For example, if riders under a certain height are prohibited from riding the ride and the operator allows a rider to go on despite the fact that the rider does not meet the height requirement, the ride operator may be held liable for injuries sustained by the rider while on the ride.
However, operators have no duty to protect the riders from the risks associated with the rides. Moreover, riders also must follow the rules and ride requirements, or they may be deemed comparatively negligent in contributing to their own injuries. Related Reading: Overview of Pennsylvania’s Negligence Rules
The relevant section of the Amusement Rider Safety and Liability Act regarding actions against amusement ride operators provides:
It shall be the duty of each rider to heed all posted and oral warnings and to refrain from acting in a manner which may knowingly cause or contribute to the injury of himself or others or in a manner contrary to prohibited acts for riders set forth in section 3. Notice of these prohibited acts shall be displayed as set forth in section 5. Proof that a rider sustained an injury in the course of knowingly acting contrary to section 3 shall be evidence of comparative negligence in a suit against an operator by that rider.
4 P.S. § 504
It is important to talk to an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer after an amusement park ride accident. Some amusement ride accidents are due to the operator’s negligence. Some are due to the ride’s defective parts, and in that case, the injured rider may also have a products liability claim against the ride/part manufacturer. Therefore, careful investigation must be conducted.
Many documents pertaining to the ride must be evaluated such as: design plans, construction plans, maintenance manuals, previous accident reports, operation and instruction records, inspection records, etc.
If you or a loved one was injured as a result of riding on an amusement park ride and would like to know your legal rights, contact Daniel O’Brien, an experienced personal injury lawyer @ 877.944.8396.