Amusement Park Liability In The Time Of COVID
Rightly or wrongly, many U.S. states are choosing to reopen despite the still-present threat of the COVID-19 outbreak. Florida is one of them, and understandably, some questions persist about just how safe it is to go places this spring and summer. Many parks have already reopened – LEGOLand Florida, Sea World Orlando, and Universal Orlando resort’s three parks have all reopened as of this writing – with others such as Walt Disney World planning for later dates. If you are planning to take your family to one of Florida’s many theme parks this summer, it is crucial that you understand which responsibilities are yours and which must be upheld by the park.
Parks Have A Duty Of Care
In a normal situation, an amusement park is a business open to anyone who pays to enter, which means that the park owners and staff have an obligation to make the park as safe as possible for their customers (though only specifically for their customers). This obligation is part of the law of premises liability, which imposes a duty of care on a business owner or a landowner to ensure their customers and other visitors are as safe as possible. If you are injured in an amusement park, it is possible that the park might be liable for the harm you suffered, depending on the situation.
Florida recognizes three classes of people that might visit land – invitees, who are entitled to a high degree of care; licensees, who should be warned of dangers, though the landowner has no duty to correct them; and trespassers, who are only owed a promise to refrain from intentionally harming them. While generally a person assumes some risk in going to a public place, the landowner or business owner has a responsibility to minimize the risk of harm, and a failure to do so can be actionable.
COVID Questions Unanswered
While as of this writing, no personal injury-related lawsuits have yet been filed by anyone who contracted COVID due to negligence, it would be remiss to discount the possibility, given the clear risks that the average person may court when visiting an amusement park in the midst of a global pandemic. The issues that would be before a court in a COVID-related personal injury suit would be twofold: one, the issue of assumption of risk would figure prominently in any discussion of compensation, and two, trying to place a value on just how high a degree of care is owed to business invitees.
Assumption of risk is what is called an affirmative defense, offered to the court by a defendant to essentially state that the plaintiff should have known that injury was a possibility in their specific situation, so they have no right to seek compensation. While no real jurisprudence yet exists on assumption of the risk of contracting COVID-19, it would in theory be an argument accepted by the court – COVID is, in theory, no different than any other risk of injury in that it is a possibility when one chooses to go to a public place.
Contact A Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer
While life may slowly return to normal as the worst of the coronavirus threat passes, it is still incumbent on everyone to be aware of the potential risks of going out, spending time in crowds, and other activities known to increase the likelihood of infection. If you have further questions or concerns about situations like these, contacting the Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group may be a good idea. We are happy to try and assist you. Call us today for a free consultation.