As restrictions begin to lift throughout Alberta, individuals are trying to find ways to keep busy and entertained while also continuing to practice vital health and safety measures. Parents, especially, are looking for ways to keep their children active and engaged during the summer months.
One traditional way that many derive hours of enjoyment is by visiting amusement parks throughout the country. Western Canada’s largest permanent outdoor amusement park, Calaway Park, is scheduled to reopen on July 17, 2020. The park is implementing a variety of public-health measures to protect its visitors by encouraging guests to wear masks; requiring reservations for entry times prior to arrival; limiting capacity to 33%; practicing physical distancing within the park; frequently wiping down rides, queues and handrails; and screening staff members with temperature checks.
Amusement parks are a great way to spend the day out with friends and family, however, there have been instances where accidents or injuries occur in amusement parks.
In 1986, the deadliest accident occurred at the West Edmonton Mall when three people were killed and a fourth was seriously injured in a derailment on the Mindbender roller-coaster. In 2013, a 16-year-old suffered severe spinal injuries and was left quadriplegic after an accident at the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg. More recently a father has commenced a lawsuit in the United States against the popular Hersheypark family theme park located in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
A lawsuit has been commenced in Pennsylvania by Anthony DeNoto (“DeNoto”) against Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company and the designer and builder of the roller coaster in question alleging that he and his son have suffered trauma following an event that took place on one of the park’s roller coasters.
On June 26, 2018, DeNoto and his 9-year old son boarded the same car of the Storm Runner roller coaster at Hersheypark. DeNoto pulled down and secured his safety harness, however, his son was not able to do so. It is alleged that the park employees did not check DeNoto’s son’s safety harness, even though they were supposed to, and it was still raised above the car once the ride started. DeNoto was unable to help his son as he was already fully constrained. He allegedly yelled to the employees, “wait, wait”.
The Storm Runner launches from its station and goes from 1 to 72 mph in 2 seconds. The ride proceeds through a 135 foot loop and goes upside down three times, turns rapidly and stops abruptly.
According to the lawsuit, DeNoto’s son jumped from the car just as it began to move. The ride was not stopped and DeNoto had to complete the ride before being able to check on his son.
DeNoto alleges that Hersheypark negligently inflicted emotional distress on him and his son and therefore seeks unspecified financial damages. DeNoto has been unable to take his younger daughter to the amusement park, and even hearing the sound of a school bus release its air brakes triggers his anxiety.
Although Hersheypark has not commented on this lawsuit, the website for the park states that the Storm Runner will be closed for the 2020 season even after the park reopened on July 3, 2020.
LEGAL ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH AMUSEMENT PARKS
Each province has legislation regulating amusement devices. In Alberta, the Amusement Rides Standard Regulation under the Safety Codes Act applies. In addition, the Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Rides Safety Association is the provincial body established to ensure that all amusement rides in Alberta comply with the provincial safety codes and regulations.
In general, the owners and occupiers of an amusement park have a duty of care towards the visitors that enter the property and must exercise reasonable care in all circumstances. The owners and occupiers of the park are responsible to ensure that the rides are structurally sound and were assembled properly, the exits and entrances are safe, the safety bars or safety belts operate correctly, and that individuals boarding the rides are the correct size and that the safety mechanisms fit them appropriately, just to name a few.
However, visitors to the park must also accept some level of risk (which is usually stated on the ticket), especially when riding high speed and thrilling rides. Visitors are required to follow all of the safety instructions and behave appropriately when entering a park and when embarking on an amusement park ride to ensure their own safety. Nevertheless, if a ride malfunctions or was found to be improperly assembled or maintained, the rider cannot be said to have assumed the risk in these circumstances.
If you are or a loved one have been injured in an amusement park accident, it is important to seek medical attention promptly and ensure that your injuries are well documented.
If you have suffered injuries at an amusement park, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers can help evaluate your specific case to determine whether you have a valid claim. It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries. Contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 for a free consultation to determine how we can help you following your accident.