Amusement Parks and Go-Karts: Nervous Dad’s Things You Should Know
Health & Safety | admission of risk | inherently dangerous | waiver
By Arthur D. Leritz
March 27, 2019
This Spring Break, my lucky son was invited by his best friend’s grandparents to spend the week in sunny Florida. Part of the planned adventures is a special trip to a nearby “Kart Track” where the boys will be zooming around a race track in very fast machines. This already has amped up my blood pressure a bit, but given what I do it also got me thinking about the liability for these kind of “inherently dangerous” activities.
Skydiving, bungee jumping, rollercoasters, go-karts, trampolines, etc. are often referred to as “inherently dangerous” activities. When engaging in these activities, the thrill-seeker has “assumed the risk” of these activities and that by engaging in these activities they can cause injury and even death. There are two basic types of assumption of risk: express and implied. Implied means you engage in the activity without a written waiver, and express means the activity needs a signed waiver before you are allowed to participate. So, participant beware: if you are hurt (or worse) engaging in these activities, do not think you can just file a claim against the business for your damages. On the contrary, the law assumes when you engage in these activities, you are also essentially waiving any claim for liability, absent any gross negligence, wanton or willful misconduct. An operator of a dangerous activity does not have a duty to protect a participant from dangers that are inherent in the activity. This is why most claims against amusement parks, skydiving companies, etc. are very challenging if not impossible to pursue.
Here a few things to consider when engaging in activities that could be harmful to your health:
- Do your research: check out the company, its history, reviews, complaints, etc.
- Carefully read the waiver and ask questions if you are confused – know what you are waiving before you sign.
- Make sure whomever is guiding or instructing you in the activity is properly trained and has any required licensure.
- Make sure the entity has taken the required proper safety precautions.
- Make sure the entity is properly licensed by the state to conduct this activity.
If the answers to any of your questions leaves you with an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, trust your instincts. It is always better to err on the side of caution, especially when you are voluntarily exposing yourself to the risk of potential harm.