Mother Of 14-Year-Old Who Died On Free Fall Ride Settles Wrongful Death
The family of a 14-year-old boy who died on an amusement park ride has settled the lawsuit with the park owner and operator. The lawsuit made national headlines as the young man, who was well-liked in his community, slipped from the ride’s straps to his death. Faulty straps and disabled safety checks were blamed for the accident. Additionally, though 14, the young man was very large. It is believed that he was too large for the ride, which contributed to his death. Neither the ride manufacturer nor the park were aware that the ride had restrictions or failed to make those restrictions known to relevant parties.
Understanding amusement park liability lawsuits
Amusement Park liability lawsuits are filed under a theory of product liability as opposed to premises liability. This may sound counterintuitive, but premises liability lawsuits are much more difficult to win. Product liability lawsuits generally only require a plaintiff to prove injury. As long as they didn’t contribute to the injury, the case is easy to establish. The product manufacturer has a duty of care to ensure the safety of the ride, so ultimately, when the ride fails, the manufacturer is blamed.
Logistically, it could be a maintenance failure by the park too, so lawsuits are filed against both the park and the ride manufacturer alleging negligent exposure to a dangerous product.
Premises liability in amusement parks
Amusement parks do get sued for premises liability, but not due to ride injuries. In these cases, a slip and fall, a belligerent customer, or a flying object can strike and harm a park-goer. In some cases, the park is at least partly responsible for the injury because they have a duty of care to keep their patrons safe, clean the grounds, and ensure that belligerent guests are dealt with quickly. When they fail, they can be sued, but you have to do more argumentative work to make a premises liability case than you do a product liability case.
The major reason why product liability cases are tough is that you’re going up against a lot of money. But the plaintiff generally has a strong argument so long as they can prove injury. Winning a case for the defense means paying less money than they thought they would have to.
With premises liability, you end up taking on insurance companies that have stronger defenses but less incentive to fight them. In some cases, it may be cheaper to pay the money than spend money litigating the claim. It all comes down to math.
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