Disney World is known as "The Most Magical Place on Earth," and it’s a place like no other. Folks travel from all around to Orlando, Florida to visit Disney’s parks and attractions, including Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon. The parks and attractions, however, are not immune to liability just because so many people visit them and have a great time. Just like any other business, Disney can be held liable for any negligence, recklessness, or carelessness that causes harm to an unfortunate guest.
There are many ways people can be injured at a theme park or amusement park that extend far beyond the roller coaster and ride accidents that gain national attention. These are massive parks, and there are potential hazards that exist from the parking lots to the park and rides. Folks can also get injured in Disney’s busses, boats, monorails, and other forms of transportation.
If you get injured while visiting Disney World, it’s important to know what your rights are under Florida law and how you might be entitled to compensation if you were injured by negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. That’s what this article is about.
Steps You Can Take After an Accident at Disney World to Protect Your Rights
When you get injured at a theme park or amusement park, the initial shock can be disorienting, and you’re likely not thinking about a potential injury claim when you get hurt. You just want to get through the ordeal. However, the actions you take in the moments and days following an incident are critical to safeguarding your rights. Thus, you need to be informed and take the proper steps immediately following an accident. Here are some steps to consider taking:
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
First and foremost, attend to any injuries. Contact park staff immediately to report the injury and request medical attention. Disney World is well-equipped with first-aid stations and medical personnel who can provide initial care and document your injuries, which is crucial for any future claim. Also, ask for a copy of your report.
Document the Incident
Once you have addressed immediate health concerns, document every detail of the incident. This includes things like when and where the accident occurred, as well as any relevant details surrounding the accident.
If possible, pull out your phone and take photos or videos of the exact location where the injury occurred, as well as any hazards or conditions that contributed to the accident. Photographic evidence can be pivotal in personal injury claims.
Collect Witness Information
If there were any witnesses to the incident, collect their contact information, collect their names, phone numbers, and addresses, if possible, because their testimony could support your account of the events. This can do away with the “he said” / “she said” issues later on.
File an Official Report with Disney World
Reporting the accident to Disney World staff is a necessary step. Employees at Disney are trained (or they should be) to handle these types of incident reports, and they will document the incident in detail, which can be a critical piece of evidence that can help you with your claim. Also, ask for a copy of the incident report for your records. They may not give it to you, but the worst they can say is “no.”
Keep all physical evidence intact. This includes like the clothes you were wearing and any personal items that were damaged. If you can, preserve them in their condition immediately following the accident. In other words, try not to wash or repair anything. Just keep the stuff as it is because you may need it as evidence later.
Keep Records of Medical Treatment
As with any personal injury claim, do your best to maintain detailed records of all your medical treatment related to your injuries. Keep documents regarding your ambulance ride, hospital visits, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, medications, and any other related medical expenses.
Consult with an Orlando Personal Injury Attorney
As soon as you can, you should consider reaching out to a personal injury attorney to guide you through the personal injury claim process. Our firm has extensive experience handling theme park, amusement park, and water park accidents, and we offer free legal consultations. So, a call to us is no risk to you. Also, you don’t owe us any money unless we get you money. In other words, there’s no up-front costs or retainers involved; we take these types of cases on contingency.
Avoid Public Statements and Social Media
This is a big one: Don’t get on social media and rant about your accident. Do your best to avoid talking with anyone other than your lawyer about the incident. There’s nothing to be gained by publicly talking about what happened, and defense attorneys love to use your social media posts against you.
Don’t Delay Pursuing a Claim for Damages
Be aware that there is a limited time frame within which you can take legal action after an accident. In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is generally two (2) years, but it’s important to talk to a lawyer about it to make sure you don’t lose your rights to pursue a claim.
Negotiate with Insurers Carefully
Insurance companies may contact you and try to get you to give them a recorded statement, or they may want to throw a lowball settlement offer at you. Consult with your attorney before talking with insurance adjusters or accepting any offers they throw at you. Insurance companies are not your friend, and their goal is to do whatever they can to pay you as little money as possible. They know that the best time to get your statement or get you to take a low offer is before you’ve retained an attorney.
Types of Compensation Available After Getting Injured at a Theme Park
When an injury occurs at a theme park like Disney World, the victim may face a range of financial burdens and personal losses. Understanding the types of compensation that Florida law permits can guide injured parties in seeking redress. Compensation after an injury can generally be categorized into two types: economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are quantifiable costs directly resulting from the injury. These are out-of-pocket expenses that can be calculated and documented.
- Emergency Treatment: Costs incurred from emergency medical care immediately following an accident.
- Ongoing Care: Charges associated with long-term care, including physical therapy, rehabilitation, and future medical procedures.
- Medication: Costs for prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications needed for recovery.
- Medical Equipment: Expenses for necessary medical equipment such as crutches, braces, or wheelchairs.
- Immediate Income Loss: Wages lost due to immediate work absence post-injury.
- Future Earnings: Compensation for future income loss if the injury affects long-term earning capacity.
- Personal Property: Costs to repair or replace personal items damaged in the incident, such as clothing or electronics.
Noneconomic damages compensate for the subjective, non-monetary consequences of an injury. These damages are inherently more challenging to quantify.
Pain and Suffering
- Physical Pain: Compensation for the immediate and ongoing physical pain endured.
- Emotional Distress: Recognition of the mental anguish and emotional trauma resulting from the injury.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Quality of Life: Compensation for the loss of the ability to enjoy daily activities and hobbies.
Disfigurement and Physical Impairment
- Scarring: Compensation for significant scarring or disfigurement.
- Physical Limitations: Compensation for long-term physical impairments resulting from the injury.
Loss of Consortium
- Relationships: Compensation awarded for the negative impact on the relationship with a spouse or family due to the injury.
Florida law allows an injured person to recover both economic and noneconomic damages. However, insurance companies often want to focus purely on medical damages, and this often only captures a portion of the victim’s damages.
Ultimately, when you’re seeking compensation for injuries, you need to be able to provide a detailed assessment of all the damages you've suffered, and you need this assessment to be supported by evidence. Medical records, receipts, employment documentation, and expert testimony often play a pivotal role in substantiating a claim. A personal injury attorney with experience in Florida law and amusement park accident cases can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the legal nuances and advocating for the full extent of damages you are owed.
How to Prove Negligence After Getting Injured at Disney World
To establish a claim for negligence at a theme park like Disney World, you must demonstrate four key elements of negligence: (1) duty of care, (2) breach of duty, (3) causation, and (4) damages. The plaintiff of claimant has the burden of proving all four elements by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning “more likely than not.” We’ll discuss each element of negligence in greater detail below.
Duty of Care
You must first establish that Disney World owed you a duty of care. Given that theme parks invite guests to enjoy their facilities, they are legally obligated to maintain a safe environment. Accordingly, the duty element is generally not very difficult to demonstrate.
Breach of Duty
Next, you need to show how Disney World breached that duty. This could be through poor maintenance of equipment, inadequate training of staff, or failure to address known safety hazards. This is essentially the element of negligence, recklessness, or carelessness. In other words, when you’re seeking to establish a breach of duty, you point to actions or inactions that deviate from what a reasonable person would do or wouldn’t do under similar circumstances.
It's imperative to connect the breach directly to your injury. The argument must be made that, but for the park's negligence, the injury would not have occurred. However, you don’t just need to establish but-for causation or direct causation, there also must be proximate causation, which is also known as “legal causation.” Here, we’re looking at whether the harm the victim suffered was foreseeable and whether it’s appropriate to hold the defendant liable for what happened.
Finally, you need to be able to show that you suffered actual damages as a result of the incident. Damages might include things like physical injuries, financial losses, and emotional trauma. The bottom line here is simple: If you weren’t actually harmed and didn’t suffer any damages, you shouldn’t be bringing a personal injury claim.Personal injury claims can be complex and challenging to navigate, especially when you’re dealing with a powerful company that has a team of insurance adjusters and defense attorneys. These people want to pay claimants as little as possible, and they’re skilled at minimizing and denying injury claims; that’s what they do for a living. Hence, securing a knowledgeable attorney that handles personal injury claims against big businesses to guide you through the process can drastically increase your chances of a successful outcome.