Florida is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and theme parks like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and Legoland are among the Sunshine State’s most visited attractions. The companies that own these theme parks lobby lawmakers aggressively and make large donations to political campaigns, which has led to lax oversight and dangerous conditions according to advocacy groups like Integrity Florida. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services releases a report every quarter that details theme park injuries, but the integrity of the data has been questioned because it comes directly from park operators.
Critics of the quarterly theme park injury report claim that The Walt Disney Company, Comcast Corp. and other park operators downplay visitor injuries to make their facilities appear safer than they really are, and there is evidence to support this view. Broken toe and leg bones suffered by an 11-year-old boy were described by Universal as foot pain, and the company said that a woman who broke her neck on a ride was left feeling numb.
Park operators blame privacy laws
When questioned about the accuracy of the injury report’s data, a Universal spokesperson blamed privacy laws that protect health care records. He told a reporter that park operators have no access to diagnosis information after guests have been transported to hospital. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has announced that talks have been scheduled to discuss making the amusement park injury report more accurate. Advocacy groups say they do not expect these discussions to lead to meaningful changes because of the influence park operators have over government regulators.
Premises liability lawsuits
While theme park injury reports may not detail the true extent of visitor injures, they do reveal that accidents happened. Experienced personal injury attorneys pursuing premises liability lawsuits on behalf of injured amusement park visitors could use this information to establish that dangerous conditions existed and park operators knew about them. This is important in premises liability cases as property owners or operators are culpable for injuries caused by hazardous conditions that they knew about or should have known about.