Water parks can be fun places for everyone in the family, but unfortunately they are also common sites for injury. Often, injuries occur because of the high-risk nature of the attractions, like water slides, which account for 86 percent of waterpark injuries.
In addition to high-speed slides and dangerous attractions, water parks can be dangerous because they often become overcrowded. Overcrowding creates danger for young, weaker swimmers, and because it makes it difficult for lifeguards to spot a swimmer in distress. Besides drowning, common waterpark injuries include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Straddle injuries, meaning a groin injury which occurs when when a person straddles the side of a waterslide or safety bar
- Jet-Ski injuries, which occur when water enters body cavities when traveling at high speeds
- Slip and fall injuries from wet, poorly maintained walkways
- Heat-related illnesses
- Various types of injuries caused by water recreation activities
Many people do not know, who is liable if you or a member of your family is subjected to one of these injuries at a waterpark? The answer varies depending upon the specific scenario.
The water park owners can be held responsible. At any theme park, the owners have the responsibility to provide the safest environment possible for their patrons. This means choosing rides that aren’t known to cause patrons to drown or break bones, properly maintaining rides and attractions, and making sure all rides and attractions are being operated correctly. Often, when an injured person sues a water park owner, they are suing for negligence. Negligence is the failure to behave with a reasonable level of care.
The water park owners might also be responsible if a slip-and-fall injury was caused the the park’s slippery surfaces. Water parks can also be responsible for illnesses caused by water-borne pathogens, like when a lawsuit was brought against a Six Flags park which caused a norovirus outbreak due to contaminated food and water. Contaminated water can lead to viruses, parasites, and bacteria which can spread quickly and cause serious illness.
The water park employees can be held responsible. Any waterpark employee could potentially be held responsible for an injury, including lifeguards, ride operators, or food vendors. Often, if an employee is at fault for an injury, then that means the park is at fault, as long as the incident was in the employee’s scope of work. If you can prove the employee was being willfully reckless, negligent, or malicious, then the incident would be outside their scope of work, and the individual employee could potentially be liable. Also, if the employee deliberately hit or tripped you, the employee would be responsible and not the employer.
You could be held responsible. Sometimes waterparks have patrons sign wavers which release the parks of liability in case an injury or accident occurs at the park. These waivers are not always impenetrable, though, so it is always a good idea to consult with your attorney if you think you could have a case. If the court does uphold the waiver, you will be the only one liable for your injury. In any case, following the parks rules and safety guidelines is the best way to stay safe and prevent accidents.