Theme parks and other attractions have a basic obligation to provide employees and visitors with a reasonable degree of security against crime. Property owners who fail to uphold their duties can be found responsible for third-party crimes in court.
Our experienced premises liability lawyers are here to help. If you or a loved one were injured by a crime at an amusement park, carnival, or zoo, contact our attorneys now for a free legal consultation.
When amusement parks, zoos, carnivals, and state fairs fail to provide adequate security, guests and employees are placed directly in harm's way. Hundreds of park visitors are victimized every year, falling prey to armed robberies, shootings, and sexual assaults. Crime can take a significant toll on the lives of victims and their loved ones. Some of these survivors may be eligible to file a negligent security lawsuit against the theme park.
While these parks are designed to provide a fun and carefree atmosphere, the lack of adequate security measures can leave visitors vulnerable to theft, harassment, or other criminal activities. Failure to properly monitor and maintain security cameras, insufficient lighting in certain areas, and lax enforcement of rules can all contribute to this problem. It is essential for amusement park operators to prioritize the safety and security of their guests by implementing comprehensive security protocols, training staff in crime prevention, and ensuring that visitors can enjoy their experience without fear of becoming victims of crime.
If the amusement sells alcohol and then it decides to sell alcohol to a visibly drunk individual who is going to get into their car, and that individual injures another person because they hit them while driving under the influence of alcohol, the amusement park could face a "hit by drunk driver lawsuit" on behalf of the injured victim.
In the event of security issues at the amusement park, where the park's management is aware of the potential dangers and vulnerability to criminal activity but fails to offer sufficient security measures for its visitors and those with a valid reason to be within the park, the amusement park could potentially be held liable for any incidents involving shootings, mass shootings, or stabbings that occur within the park premises or its immediate vicinity.
It may surprise you to learn how often criminal acts are carried out at amusement parks and on other recreational properties. Theft is most common, but violent crimes, including armed robbery and assault, are not unheard of.
On the night of Halloween 2017, a group of teenage boys brutally beat and robbed at least 20 patrons visiting California's Great America. As the Mercury News reports, police in Santa Clara fielded reports on four violent assaults and at least 15 robberies, including several armed thefts, all of which took place at the Santa Clara theme park.
In an even more troubling vein, Police Magazine in 2010 reported on the terrifying rise in gang-related incidents at theme parks across California.
Thankfully, most large amusement parks, from Disney World to Knott's Berry Farm, employ armies of security guards to prevent criminals from having their way with visitors. Every bag entering Disneyland is searched in the parking lot. And most high-profile amusement parks are covered by hundreds of security cameras.
The same security precautions usually aren't taken at smaller attractions, like the carnival or county fair that is set up near your home every year. Despite their differences in size and revenue, all of these amusement locations share a basic duty to offer lawful guests, employees, and visitors a reasonable level of security. Amusement parks that fail to do so can be held accountable for allowing violent crimes to occur under their watch.
The duties that property owners owe to lawful visitors and guests are defined and enforced by a variety of state laws. These are civil rather than criminal laws. While many victims of crime are aware to a certain extent of their rights as participants in the criminal justice system, few understand how their rights can also be exercised in civil courts.
Under a number of state laws known collectively as premises liability law, all property owners in the country are required to provide visitors and guests with an adequate level of security. When that requirement is violated, criminals are allowed to commit horrifying acts of violence against innocent victims.
Even though criminal offenders are, in the final analysis, responsible for their own actions, some property owners can be held partially responsible for creating an environment in which criminal acts could occur in the first place. In short, survivors of crime and their loved ones may be eligible to file a lawsuit against an amusement park for providing negligent security.
Theme parks and fairs, both large and small, must remain vigilant against crime. The specific security requirements for any one amusement park, however, will change depending on the park's location and the area's history of crime.
Carnivals or fairs that open in or around high-crime neighborhoods should institute strong protections against crime. Small county fairs in rural areas may not have the same responsibilities, though the duty could be increased if the area is particularly secluded and vulnerable.
Courts across the country have concluded that property owners, including the owners of amusement parks, zoos, or fairs, cannot be held accountable for crimes that they could never have seen coming. The crime at issue must have been "foreseeable." Since theft is particularly common at theme parks, most park owners will be expected to have specific policies in place to deter potential robbers. The same could be said for a fair at which multiple violent assaults have taken place.
After concluding that an amusement park or carnival owed a visitor the duty to provide adequate security, civil courts will then consider the security measures in place, along with their condition, to determine their adequacy.
While there are no iron-clad security measures mandated by law, a contingent of trained security guards and working security cameras can be helpful to prevent criminal offenders from harming visitors. Most amusement parks should ensure that unauthorized trespassers cannot simply walk onto the premises unchallenged.
And particular attention should always be paid to adjacent parking lots, a key target for violent criminals across the country. A brightly illuminated parking lot can go a long way to preventing assaults, armed robberies, and shootings. Even better is to have security guards patrol the parking lot on a frequent basis to investigate suspicious circumstances and put potential offenders on notice.
Needless to say, once the proper security precautions have been put in place, they must be maintained. When a parking lot light goes out, it should be replaced. Security guards have to show up for work, and when they don't, replacements need to be found. Failing to maintain reasonable safety measures could open an amusement park or other attraction to legal liability.
Were you or a loved one hurt by a criminal at an amusement park, fair, or other attraction? Our experienced negligent security attorneys may be able to help. You may be eligible to secure significant financial compensation. To find more information on your legal options, contact our lawyers now for a free consultation.