Amusement Park and Fair Season is Just Around the Corner!

Amusement parks offer guests fun, adrenaline-pumping rides, fantastic sights, and much more. Whether you are visiting a county fair, state fair, carnival, theme park, amusement park, or even a water park, no element of surprise should include injury erupting from reckless behavior. Unfortunately, when carelessness is blended in with excitement, the outcome can be anything but joyous, resulting in serious personal injury and even wrongful death. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, 300 million people go to amusement parks each year. It is estimated that the chance of an injury happening in a theme park setting is 1 in 9 million. After recent fatal events at the Ohio State Fair, Hicks & Motto wanted to inform you about what to do in the event of an injury at an amusement park, fair, or carnival.

Guest safety in any amusement park setting should always come first and be at the top of the establishment’s list of priorities. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and when careless actions or efforts are carried out by owners or employees, people get hurt. Some common negligence issues that lead to injuries include:

  • Dimly lit areas like parking lots where assaults can take place
  • Unlocked doors or gates that can permit access to dangerous areas
  • Poorly maintained rides or buildings
  • Ride operators under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Defects in rides
  • Slippery surface areas
  • Equipment or other articles that obstruct walkways

Tampa, Orlando, Weeki Wachee, and other parts of Florida have some magnificent theme parks that are famous throughout the country. Popular theme parks like these are required to have routine safety inspections and highly trained employees operating the rides. However, even if these safety precautions are performed regularly and properly, accidents can still happen. Injuries at theme parks can be lethal due to extreme heights and momentous speeds reached within seconds flat.

Many amusement park accidents take place on a more local level, at county or state fairs, and short-term festivals and carnivals. The safety measures for small-scale events like these are not as strict as large and permanent parks. Rides and stations are set up and taken down repeatedly and transported across the country every few days or weeks. Sometimes the storage process of these rides can be inadequate. These rides are usually not maintained properly, overused, and outdated. It is not uncommon for these rides to be improperly set up, which can make them a full-on danger zone for paying customers.

The staff at these local events can also be crookedly constructed. Many times they are not fully aware or trained at handling such intricate structures. When this is the case, serious unfortunate accidents can occur. All it takes is one missing screw or an untrained employee to create a catastrophic injury that can change your life forever.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) used to track the number of deaths due to theme park or carnival rides (52 deaths between 1990 and 2004), but they no longer collect mortality data. They did report that, in 2011, over 37,000 people were sent to emergency rooms. Of those, approximately 36,000 were released and a little over 1,000 were admitted to the hospital. The CPSC regulates portable rides such as the ones that you see at county fairs and carnivals, but they have nothing to do with standard fixed rides such as the ones found at Disney World, Universal Studios, or Busch Gardens.

When a wrongful death or amusement park injury occurs, and that injury occurs on a ride, it will be generally due to improper ride maintenance, inspection, or a failure to warn. A theme-park injury may originate with a ride manufacturer’s product defect – which would give rise to a product-liability claim.

However, plenty of people are injured at theme parks or carnivals, and those injuries have nothing to do with the actual rides. The owner/manager of the park has an obligation to maintain the general premises in a safe condition. Inadequate security, broken stairs or handrails, uneven pavement, or insufficient lighting in the parking lot may also be evidence of general negligence that would give rise to a premises-liability claim.

Most theme park accidents deal with large corporations; sometimes one claim can involve several different companies. At Hicks & Motto, we are prepared to go to bat against major corporations; we will not cower from scare tactics enlisted by these corporations to get you to take a low settlement. It is important to know that swift settlement offers are usually not in your best interest; however, all cases are unique. Generally speaking, companies will try and dissuade you from pursuing your legal matters by convincing you that you will be unsuccessful against them. This is simply an effort to limit their product liability exposure. Whether you, or someone you know, is injured at any fairs, carnivals, or theme parks in Florida, call the injury lawyers at Hicks & Motto, P.A., for a free consultation.

Annual Medical Costs Related to Bicycle Accidents Soar Into the Billions

Bicycle accidents are on the riseA study published this week in the journal, Injury Prevention, estimates that from 1997 to 2013, the medical costs for non-fatal bicycle crashes involving adults increased by an average of $789 million each year. In 2013 alone, total costs were $24.4 billion — about double the amount for all occupational illnesses, the researchers wrote. Those figures cover emergency transport, hospital charges, rehabilitation, nursing home stays, the cost of lost work, and quality of life, among other things.

The rising costs can be partially explained by how bike crashes have changed in recent years, according to Thomas W. Gaither, one of the study’s authors. In the past, there were many “non-street” incidents, but these days most involving adults are crashes with motor vehicles. In 1997, 46 percent of injuries occurred on a street, while in 2014, nearly 67 percent did. This increases, “the velocity of the crash impact and, as a result, the severity of the injury,” Gaither explained. He and the other researchers also suggested that, “streets might also predispose to more injuries due to the coexisting environment with urban areas, increased population density, or the presence of more unyielding street furniture” (meaning things such as telephone polls, fire hydrants, parking meters, and the like).

Despite the bad news about the medical and cost consequences, the researchers said they still thought cycling’s health benefits outweighed its risks. But they concluded the study findings show that there should be a policy focus on injury prevention, adding that better design of roadway infrastructure, and even of bikes and cars, might be in order.

Legal rights are affected by an accident, and it is in your best interest to have a knowledgeable attorney review the facts of your case before you decide what course of action to pursue. An attorney can negotiate a replacement bicycle and/or compensation for damage to your bicycle, and negotiate a bodily injury settlement with the insurance company that takes into account all of your damages, including your pain and suffering. You can learn about all your legal rights and speak directly with an attorney for a free consultation with Hicks & Motto.

Here’s a quick list of what to do in case of a bicycle accident:

  1. Check yourself – do a cursory and visual search of your person to determine if you have sustained any injuries that need immediate attention. If necessary, call an ambulance. Do not be a hero!
  2. Assist the injured – check with each person involved in the accident to see if they have been hurt. If necessary, call an ambulance.
  3. Call the Police!
  4. Gather as much information as you can – take pictures of the scene; document the make, model, and license plate of the offending vehicle; gather the vehicle’s driver information including name, address, phone number, license number, and insurance information.
  5. Do not admit fault – your comments made in the tension and excitement of the moment may not be accurate! Wait for all the facts, and consult an attorney before admitting to responsibility, especially if you received a traffic ticket.
  6. Obtain witness information – write down the names and addresses of all the witnesses or involved parties to your accident. Don’t forget any passengers of the vehicles. Ask the witnesses what they observed.
  7. See a doctor – serious injuries do not always show immediate symptoms. It is smart to have your doctor or an emergency room doctor examine you as soon as possible. With the recent PIP law changes, you need to see a Medical Doctor within the first 14 days after your accident.
  8. Bicycle Repair – take you bicycle to a reputable shop with skilled mechanics to evaluate the damage.
  9. Tickets – don’t admit fault even if you are given a citation. The police officer is only giving his or her opinion of what happened. The ticket itself does not affect your case.
  10. CALL HICKS & MOTTO – Be sure after your accident you contact your law firm right away. A lawyer can give you advice, and help you through the process whether you are at fault or not.

The Florida Supreme Court Issues Key PIP Ruling

On July 3, 2013, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion in GEICO v. Virtual Imaging Services, Inc., that under the 2008 amendments to the Florida PIP statute, a PIP insurer cannot take advantage of the Medicare fee schedules to limit reimbursements to providers without notifying its insured by electing those fee schedules in its policy. Because the policy, in that case, did not reference the permissive method of calculation based on the Medicare fee schedules, GEICO could not limit its reimbursement based on those fee schedules. Hicks & Motto has extensive experience in PIP litigation and can assist your medical practice or facility in seeking proper compensation for treatment rendered to an injured person under PIP.


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