One common cause of action for amusement park injuries, and tort law more broadly, is negligence. An amusement park operator has a duty to protect its patrons from any reasonably foreseeable risks created by its rides and other attractions. This is because patrons at a park are considered “business invitees” and, as invitees, the business owner, or park operator in these cases, has a duty to act non-negligently towards their patrons. If a park operator fails to exercise a proper degree of care, defined as the standard of a care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in the same circumstances, they may be liable for negligence.
Negligence requires proof that the injury actually or proximately resulted from the negligent conduct. The Carnival Amusement Rides Safety Act or “CARSA” does not provide a private cause of action, nor is it a tort-liability scheme. However, courts in New Jersey have recently held that violations of CARSA, individually or in their aggregate, may be considered as evidence in determining whether a defendant acted with negligence. Nonetheless, all amusement park operators have a duty to protect their patrons from reasonably foreseeable risks created by their rides and attractions. This includes a duty to inspect and ensure rides are operating with reasonable safety measures and that they have been constructed properly and are in good repair. Ride operators also have a duty to supervise riders and prevent conduct that endangers other riders. Patrons can also rely on circumstantial evidence when filing these claims, along with possible inferences of negligence under res ipsa loquitor.
Despite the obligations imposed on park operators to maintain and ensure the conditions and operators of their rides, patrons also have duties as visitors of the park. CARSA imposes requirements that riders observe any posted directions or warnings while also refraining from acting recklessly or in a manner that causes or contributes to an injury. CARSA also includes a prohibition on knowingly boarding or attempting to board a ride while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other controlled dangerous substance that affects the individual’s ability to safely ride or follow a ride’s instructions. Failure to properly follow these provisions could lead to a comparative negligence defense or even dismissal of the claim entirely.
Understanding the nuances of a negligence claim, and the strength of one, can be difficult. Our attorneys are available by phone or email to assist in answering any questions you might have regarding a claim you wish to pursue.