Serious injuries have recently been reported at Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park, including electrical shock, paralysis, brain injuries and near drownings.
A park guest reported being injured when she was visiting Volcano Bay on June 2, 2019. She said she was shocked due to the park’s electrical system malfunctioning that day and has filed a lawsuit in Orange County for damages she sustained as a result.
She was one of multiple injury reports that came in that day after the park was forced to close due to the electrical malfunction. Several guests and park employees reported feeling electrical shocks while in the pool of TeAwa The Fearless River, and while on the boardwalk.
The electrical malfunctions at Volcano Bay were related to underground electrical cables. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff noted park officials did not take her concerns seriously when initially expressed. The woman’s injuries are permanent and continuing, the lawsuit alleges.
University City Development Partners, the parent company of Volcano Bay, used one of the most common defenses in these type cases, arguing the plaintiff’s injuries were a result of a ‘pre-existing’ condition. They also placed blame on a third-party company and the plaintiff herself.
A park visitor from New York, claims that injuries he sustained on the Punga Racers waterslide at Volcano Bay led to his paralysis. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff hit a wall of water as he exited the water slide into a wading pool, forcing his neck to snap back violently, leaving him not able to move. He was face down in the water, and his daughter and wife flipped him over as soon as they found him.
After being evaluated by doctors at Orlando Regional Medical Center, it was determined that he had suffered a severe spinal cord compression along his C3 to C7 vertebrae. Volcano Bay reported that the man only suffered “numbness” after riding the water slide in the state report issued every quarter documenting injuries reported at Central Florida theme parks.
He later underwent surgery where doctors removed part of his C3 to C7 vertebrae, installing screws and rods and partially fusing a section of his spinal column. While he has regained use of his arms and legs, he is in a partial quadriplegic state and is limited in what he can do. He has filed a lawsuit for injuries sustained.
Most states, including Florida, have regular inspection requirements, but that does not mean the inspections are uniform across the board. The Department of Agriculture is tasked with inspecting amusement park rides and water theme parks. However, some of the more popular theme parks in our state, including Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World are exempt from any government inspection and state oversight. This is due to the fact these parks have more than 1,000 employees and full-time inspectors on staff.
According to the National Consumer Public Safety Commission (NCPSC), more than 270 million people visit theme parks every year. Without having uniform guidelines and regulations protecting people visiting these attractions, injuries and accidents will continue to occur. There are things you can do to help prevent injuries at Florida theme parks. For one, you should never try and ride or leave a ride while it is still moving. Always keep an eye on your children, and if they do not meet the height or weight requirements of the ride, keep them off it. Do not get on a ride while intoxicated. This will not only increase your risk of injury, but it can also impact your ability to collect damages if you are injured while on the ride.
When it comes to malfunctions and accidents resulting from an amusement ride, Florida law requires accidents be reported verbally within four hours of occurring and in writing within 24 hours. These reports must be filed using the Fair Rides Written Accident Report and faxed to (850) 410-3797 or emailed to FairRides@FDACS.gov.
A civil trial attorney with the firm Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis, P.A., Mr. Damaso concentrates on cases involving personal injury and wrongful deaths and solely represents individual victims and consumers. He takes his clients' cases personally and is committed to their best possible outcome. His strong sense of community has led to his support of numerous charities in the Orlando area.