In the summer, a water park is a perfect place to enjoy the sun and cool off. Though water parks might be fun, an incredible amount of work ensures visitors’ safety. Guards must remain vigilant and be on watch at all times to keep guests safe. When things go wrong, they can change someone’s life forever. Many things can contribute to severe injuries within the gates of a water park.
Why should I hire an attorney?
As with many theme parks, rules and regulations ensure everyone has a good time while limiting injuries. Regardless of how vigilant the administration and staff are in a water park, negligence can cause many injuries. Water parks must pay for injuries caused by their negligence.
Water parks have lawyers on retainer to protect themselves against inevitable lawsuits. Accident victims and their families are up against an already fortified system built to keep the cost of settlements down. If a waterpark accident injures you or your loved ones, an attorney can help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
Types of Injuries
Water can make hot summer days a joy, but water can turn deadly and dangerous when things go wrong. Consider the following injuries the next time you spend the day poolside.
Slip and fall
Water can make surfaces slippery, especially concrete. Whenever lifeguards blow their whistles and tell people to “walk!” they aren’t doing it to be annoying or ruin your good time. On wet concrete, slip and fall injuries hurt more people than any other waterpark injury.
Falling on wet concrete, especially while running, can cause dire injuries, from abrasions and broken bones to concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. These injuries are almost always preventable.
By providing information in highly visible areas, ample warnings to guests, and properly textured concrete, water parks can prevent slip and fall injuries.
Injuries on slides
Water parks feature many attractions, from pools to fountains, diving boards, and even jungle gym water features. Water slides draw crowds because of their speed, twists and turns, and the satisfying splash at the end.
Water slides must pass tests and get approval from design to maintenance. Water slide accidents can result in many injuries, ranging from abrasions and burns against the slide surface to being ejected and falling from high structures.
Slide operators must ensure enough time passes between slide users to prevent pile-ups and collisions. Parks must be held accountable for continued maintenance and repair of slides, which can become damaged over time and result in injuries.
Lifeguards need more than training and the ability to be good swimmers; they must be proficient in the park tools and safety gear. Park regulations require adequate safety equipment to be stored properly, kept clean, and readily available in case of injuries and emergency use. Rescue hooks, flotation devices, and other equipment such as backboards and AED devices can mean the difference between life and death. These are rescue tools for the first line of defense against injury at the pool.
Water parks must maintain pools to ensure water hygiene and to keep water levels safe for swimmers. Too much pool cleaner can result in chemical burns, including irritation to the eyes and other mucous membranes. Too much cleaner solution burns the skin and causes severe reactions if not administered properly. It is up to the Water Park to ensure those treating and cleaning the pool receive proper training.
The most devastating water park accidents—neck, TBI, and spinal injuries—are too common. These accidents may result from jumping off diving boards, collisions on water slides, diving in shallow water, and roughhousing in wave pools.
A neck fracture can cause a swimmer to lose consciousness and even drown. Spinal and traumatic brain injuries are difficult to identify at the water park due to the hectic environment and highly populated areas. These injuries are always difficult to address appropriately, but they require extra care and training in the water.
In a pool, responding to a spinal injury is risky since backboards, CPR, and other lifesaving techniques often happen in the water.
Possibly the most obvious risk of water park injuries, drowning can happen for many reasons. Loss of consciousness due to a spinal injury, concussion, or collision is common. Inhaling water can turn deadly in almost any case.
Whatever the cause, drowning occurs when the brain cannot receive oxygen. In just a matter of minutes, the brain’s oxygen loss damages the nervous system, resulting in brain damage, asphyxiation, and even death. Even with CPR and resuscitation attempts, drowning can end someone’s life or cause permanent brain damage.
Reasons for injuries
Saying that accidents can happen is a thin excuse for injuries at a water park. Rules, regulations, and provisions required for park licensing provide a safer environment for park guests. There are some ways that injuries can result from water park negligence.
Lack of guard training
In an ideal situation, guards receive training and certification by a system like the American Red Cross. These methods and lifesaving standards are effective and ensure the guards’ safety while increasing the chance of survival and reducing injuries.
Water parks sometimes forgo these standards and give minimal training to guards without diligent retesting and drills. Guards must be trained for the eventuality of all accidents and be physically and mentally acute enough to perform their jobs.
Like any safety and first response profession, guards must be physically and mentally ready to save lives. If guards are intoxicated, using substances, or otherwise incapable of performing their duties, the park must relieve these guards and provide replacements or shut down unsupervised areas.
Impaired guards are more likely to miss details like how long a child was underwater or may fail to check blind spots in the pool.
Equipment that isn’t up to code
Safety equipment must conform to the reliability and use requirements inherent to lifeguarding. Inferior substitutions can impair a guard’s ability to effectively rescue someone who has been hurt or render aid to them. Only certified lifesaving equipment is appropriate during rescues. Old or damaged equipment might not function properly and could contribute to injuries or death.
Bad design features of the park
Among bad design features is smooth concrete, which can contribute to slip and fall injuries, dangerous slides and other water features, and blind spots. Guard stations sit at intervals allowing one or more guards to respond to accidents and injuries within seconds. Blind spots, such as areas behind water slides, bends in the pool, storage sheds, and other shelters, and the pool or water features might prove deadly if they prevent a guard from seeing the surroundings.
One of the most dangerous water park features is the wave pool. The rise and fall of the water change the predictability of the environment, meaning that deep water can suddenly be shallow and result in spinal/brain injuries if someone dives into a shallow area. Since there is no way to indicate the depth of the water in an ever-changing environment, the swimmer might not know how close they are to the bottom.
Wave pools crowd quickly, and crashing into other swimmers in the waves can cause blackouts and even drowning. Wave pools also make it more difficult for lifeguards to see what is going on. They can further cause delays for lifeguards needing to access a drowning swimmer in the water.
Tubes often crowd the wave pools, obscuring the line of sight of a guard on duty.
Improper training and diligence can make this a water park’s most dangerous part.
Treatment for injuries
Water park injuries may require an extra measure of treatment. Spinal injuries can worsen if incapable people are setting someone injured on a backboard. Near-drownings can cause chronic problems later on with damaged lung tissue. Medical professionals must handle injuries due to their severity. Traumatic brain and spinal injuries may require extensive hospitalization, surgery, and rehabilitation.
Permanent injuries such as paralysis due to spinal injuries may entail life-altering conditions such as being required to use a wheelchair or struggling to regain mental cognition.
During recovery, the victim may lose time at work, require physical therapy, and deal with putting their life back together. Severe pain and suffering can result from their world turning upside down. Post-traumatic stress disorder is commonplace among water park accident survivors, as is the potential for chronic pain management.
The loved ones and families of those who did not survive their injuries also suffer, dealing with a senseless loss. The water park is responsible for compensating the victims and their survivors, as the aftermath is often long-term, life-changing, and debilitating.
Who can you hold liable?
Water parks must adhere to rules and regulations to ensure their guests’ safety. With trained guards, safety equipment, signs, information, and requirements for both guests and guards, a water park should be a source of entertainment. When water parks ignore one or more of these standards, people get hurt.
All too commonly, guards and administration shirk their responsibilities to maintain a safe environment to save money, which is the most common reason for injuries. The main culprits for waterpark accidents are hiring insufficiently trained guards, not providing for drills and further training, and even letting park features and safety equipment fall into disrepair.
The water park is accountable, and its insurer is more interested in the lowest settlement amount rather than providing compensation where it is due.
An attorney can help you
If a water park accident injures you or a family member, seek legal representation. Due to hospital expenses, changes in quality of life, loss of income, pain, suffering, and continued trauma, the water park should compensate you for your injuries.
A skilled attorney can help you navigate the settlement process and even take the matter to court if necessary. Contact a lawyer today to learn more about how to protect your rights and recover compensation for your injuries.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.