Many parents will be taking their children to theme parks this summer during the school holidays and as part of the staycation trend for UK breaks this year. Theme park rides are normally well maintained and properly supervised by park staff, with strict safety measures in place to prevent accidents. However, the sheer number of people visiting theme parks every day combined with the amount of land that theme parks occupy means that accidents do happen, and the majority of these involve children getting injured.
Child accidents at theme parks are often the result of lack of supervision on the part of parents, as well as children’s lack of coordination, carefree behaviour and natural susceptibility to injuries. Other accidents are caused by theme park ride defects and poor maintenance, such as when a seat on a ride tilts or cracks due to wear and tear, or mechanical issues lead to rides speeding up, slowing down or stopping unexpectedly. Theme park owners need to have an efficient system of inspection and repairs in place to prevent accidents of this kind, with safety checks before the park opens and at regular intervals during the day.
Other accidents involving children at theme parks are caused by maintenance failures in the park grounds, such as when rubbish and similar obstructions are allowed to accumulate, or when areas of the site have potholes and uneven surfaces resulting in children tripping and falling. Spilled food and drinks can cause slipping accidents in cafes and restaurants at theme parks, while toilets and washing facilities need to be regularly inspected, cleaned and maintained in a safe state. Children may be struck by objects falling from height at theme parks, for example, when signs become detached and fall due to windy conditions, and park owners need to have safety measures in place that anticipate storms, strong winds and heavy rainfall.
Theme park owners have a legal duty to ensure that their premises, facilities, rides and other attractions are properly maintained and in a safe condition for visitors, as far as reasonably possible. When the blame for an accident lies with a park’s owners or employees, an injured child will be entitled to compensation. Children under the age of 18 are known as ‘protected parties’ in legal terms, as they are not suitably mature to conduct legal proceedings. They will therefore need to be represented by a ‘litigation friend’, usually a parent or guardian, who can make a claim on their behalf. Compensation will be paid into the court funds office, and held until the child has reached the age of 18. You can find out more about theme park accidents on our dedicated page: