The recent wrongful death lawsuit brought against Universal Orlando Resort has sparked a discussion about the responsibility of parks to protect their guests. An amusement park attendee passed away due to heart complications and his family has brought a suit against the park alleging neglect of park-goers who do not speak English. It’s important for people to know their rights when it comes to attending theme parks and how they can stay safe during their trips. In addition to this information, you should know how a wrongful death attorney can assist you in building a case for a loved one.
Universal Orlando Resort Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In 2016, 38-year-old Jose Calderon Arana and his family attended Universal Orlando Resort and rode on “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.” The ride displayed a sign advising park-goers with heart conditions against riding due to its jarring and intense nature. This sign was in English, and no signs in any other language accompanied the ride.
Calderon Arana’s family is from Guatemala and speaks predominantly Spanish, so they were unable to read the ride’s warning. He has suffered from heart problems in the past, and after exiting the ride, he complained of faintness and sat down to rest on a bench while his family rode another ride. When they returned, they realized he had collapsed so he was transported to a hospital where he later passed away.
The family has brought a suit against Universal Orlando Resort for Calderon Arana’s death alleging negligence due to the English-only warnings and delayed response from medical personnel working at the park. Their wrongful death attorney, Lou Pendas stated, “This isn’t a crazy request or expectation. It’s actually quite basic in this day and age.” This suit highlights the importance of knowing your rights as an attendee of an amusement park as well as being aware of how to keep yourself and your family safe while attending.
Amusement Park Liabilities
There are different ways amusement parks can fail to protect their attendees and in turn, there are ways parks may attempt to refute those claims. A wrongful death attorney will be well-versed in these liabilities and be able to pursue a park that is at fault.
If a park fails to provide a safe environment to its guests and this results in injury or death, the park may be held liable for negligence. Examples of negligent actions could include a park not properly training their employees, failing to provide adequate safety instructions, or not keeping their rides up to code.
A park could be pursued for a product liability claim if their equipment causes injury or death to a guest due to the park’s failure to properly design, build, or maintain an attraction or ride. A victim may also pursue the manufacturer of the ride in addition to the park and will need to prove that 1.) the equipment was defective and 2.) a different design would have prevented the injury incurred.
Similar to product liability, premises liability is when a park does not maintain their grounds and facilities correctly resulting in an injury or death of a guest. A park is responsible for providing a reasonably accommodating environment that will not result in a guest being injured.
Amusement Park Defenses Against Liability
If a case is brought against a park due to the aforementioned liabilities, they may employ the following defenses to avoid responsibility. A wrongful death attorney will assist a victim by building their case to prove these are invalid defenses for the park’s actions or lack thereof.
Attending an amusement park may be classified as an assumption of risk as it is a place with inherent potential dangers. However, this defense cannot completely eradicate a victim’s claim as they need to be aware of the risks they are assuming, such as if a ride is defective or if there are certain restrictions for specific rides.
A park may defend themselves by claiming the victim did not follow safety guidelines provided to them, resulting in injury. In this case against Universal Orlando Resort, the victim was unaware of the safety instructions due to a language barrier.
Amusement Park Safety Tips
According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, in 2017 there were 1,171 injuries related to amusement park rides in the United States and Canada. 10% of these injuries were classified as serious, meaning they resulted in death or immediate hospitalization lasting over 24 hours. Due to the potential dangers at amusement parks, it’s crucial that park-goers know how to stay safe and protect their families.
Follow guidelines—Be sure to read the warning signs posted on rides. If you do not speak the language the sign is written in, ask a park employee for help. Though it can be argued that the park is responsible for providing this information in multiple languages, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones in order to avoid an accident. Always use the equipment properly and ask a ride attendant to assist you if need help. Be sure to inform your children thoroughly of the rules they need to follow while on rides and receive assurance that they understand these guidelines.
Personal health—Keep track of your health throughout the day. If you are feeling faint or sickly, locate medical personnel quickly in order to receive the attention you need. Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day, stay out of direct sunlight when possible, and dress properly for the weather.
Faulty equipment—Do not get on a ride if you notice it has broken or deteriorated equipment. Report these issues to park staff immediately so the issue can be addressed quickly and efficiently. It is a park’s responsibility to have their rides inspected, but if they fail to do so, you should try to protect yourself and your loved ones from injury.
A Trusted Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a loved one due to the negligence of another party is heartbreaking and it can be difficult to seek the proper compensation. Not only do you deserve justice, but future deaths could be prevented if the proper party is held accountable. Enlisting the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney will greatly increase your ability to win a case brought against whoever was at fault in your loved ones passing. Donaghue and Labrum has an extensive track record of success and has served Delaware and Chester counties for over 25 years. You don’t have to do this alone—contact us today to set up a free consultation.