Whilst it doesn’t currently feel very spring like, Easter is upon us and the schools are breaking up for the Easter holidays. This means that theme parks have re-opened for the year and if the weather improves, they will no doubt be a popular place for the family to go during school holidays. Most people have an enjoyable day out and leave without problem but there are an unfortunate few who leave with an injury.
It is common practice for theme parks to try and remove themselves from any responsibility should anyone suffer an injury whilst in their park or using their facilities, even if it has been caused by their negligence or breach of contract. They do so by making waivers and warnings, often contained on entrance tickets and on information boards both at the entrance to the park and to the rides, stating that you partake at your own risk. Whilst they are free to make such warnings, they are generally not valid and would not prevent a claim being made against them should an injury be sustained.
Of course, there are warnings which should be adhered too, as ignoring them significantly increases the chance of someone being hurt. These are typically age or height restrictions on rides, and the warnings are made for good reason. If these warnings are not complied with, the theme park and their insurers will consider you responsible for any injury suffered and you are unlikely to be able to claim for compensation.
The guidelines or restrictions to some rides and activities aren’t always clear and if you have any concerns you should ask a member of staff before taking part. Well trained staff will be very helpful but sadly they are not all like this. They may not explain the safety steps you should take or say anything about the ride restrictions.
In some areas of the park you can find that the staff’s involvement in monitoring and/or supervising the ride is that much more important. If you have concerns that they are not doing so adequately and are thereby exposing yourself or children to a risk of injury, you are entitled to try and do something about this. Remember many of the staff in theme parks will be junior and on short term contracts before they move on. Your family’s safety is going to be less important to them than it is to you. If you cannot get clear advice about these things from someone supervising an activity or are worried that they aren’t doing so properly, ask to speak to a more senior member of staff and when you do get their full name and a clear answer to your question. If you have been unable to prevent an injury and you or your child has been hurt, ensure that you make a complaint, fill in an accident form and take a copy of this with you.
The company who own and run the theme park have an overriding duty to all visitors to ensure that they are reasonably safe whilst in their premises. They are also responsible for their staff members maintaining that level of safety and can be found accountable for any injury caused by a member of their team failing to properly supervise or fulfil their duty as an employee. Whilst they may try and suggest otherwise with their different waivers, this is a duty which has been in place for over 50 years and which they cannot easily escape.
Harris Fowler has a team of specialist personal injury solicitors who can advise anyone who has been injured at a theme park. Free and friendly legal advice is available on 0800 213 214 or visit harrisfowler.co.uk
Harris Fowler is a trading name of Harris Fowler Limited and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority no. 558271.