Florida is proudly home to Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, and countless other smaller attractions that bring in millions of visitors from around the world each year. In order to serve these millions of guests, theme parks must hire and manage tens of thousands of employees on a daily basis. Disneyworld alone manages over 60,000 employees at any one time.
With these many employees, combined with the nature of the job, it is no wonder that employees get hurt. And when employees get hurt, workers' compensation becomes an issue.
Florida is known for being a business-friendly state. However, business-friendly does not necessarily translate to employee-friendly. Workers' compensation plans and benefits can be a tough concept to understand, especially when most people get their information from the insurance companies themselves, who are definitely not looking to assist those who are costing them money.
Understanding the basics of workers' compensation claims it fundamental to understanding your rights. For Floridians, where almost everyone is or knows someone employed by the parks, this is even more of a truism.
Basics of Florida Workers' Comp
Florida Workers' Compensation (sometimes called Worker Comp or Workman's Comp) is a system of insurance benefits designed to help people who are injured or made ill on the job by paying for their medical treatment without regard to fault. By law, an employer in the state of Florida with a certain amount of employees is required to have this type of coverage for their employees.
For most employers, this number is more than four employees. For construction jobs, any amount of employees requires workers' comp. When someone is injured, they have 30 days to report it to their employer. However, it is best to report the injury or illness as soon as it happens. Once reported, your employer has 7 days to report it to the insurance carrier. Once benefits are approved, employers—through their insurance company—must provide you with medical benefits for treatment. These benefits not only cover medical issues but lost wages and death benefits as well. For more information on the specific coverage, see this article or contact an experienced attorney. While you're at it, do some research on how to protect your workers' compensation benefits and common mistakes you should look out for.
Theme Park Employees
Although most theme parks treat their employees fairly, the circumstance is right for abuses. The main thing about theme park employees is that they tend to be young and seasonal workers. When employees are younger, and thus have been with the company for less time, it is easier for their benefits and rights to be overlooked or taken advantage of. Young employees are often very replaceable. The same thing could be said for seasonal employees, as theme parks must hire an influx of people as the holidays and cooler months approach.
Other employees only work part time, as they work their way through college. Still, others only work during the summer as part of an internship or foreign exchange program. All these things give employers more outs and create more struggles for employees. The fact is, no matter what the situation, you still have rights and you are still protected by Florida workers' compensation benefits.
Theme Park Injury
When most people think about theme parks, it is unlikely they think about it in terms of a place of employment. In fact, places like Disneyworld do such a good job masking that their attendants are hired workers, one could be excused for forgetting.
Theme parks, like any place, present their common hazards. However, they also present some rather unique hazards as well.
Weather-related injuries: Understandably, Florida presents some pretty unique weather challenges, specifically, hot temperatures and rainy conditions. Heatstroke and related conditions can be extremely dangerous, especially if an individual has suffered a heat-related injury in the past. Rain also creates the conditions for a slip-and-fall. In Florida, rainy conditions could present themselves once a day in the summer months.
Unique Property Hazards: If you've ever noticed, walking around theme parks is actually meant to be a little challenging. This is because flat ground could be perceived as boring, while having to traverse inclines, steps, and curves seem more adventurous. These hazards, again, create more opportunity for slip-and-falls, which also happen to be the most common work-related injury.
Costume Issues: The character costumes that parks used to be so famous for, are still quite prevalent, especially at character driver attractions like Disney and Islands of Adventure. Workers who must wear heavy headpieces and costumes to do their jobs can suffer serious injuries to their head, back, and spine.
Ride Hazards: As one might expect, operating a roller coaster or a ride that spins and drops every 15 seconds can be quite dangerous. These hazards expose theme park employees to dangers most don't face.
Performers: Many theme park workers are professional entertainers, requiring them to perform dangerous acts. Dancers and other performers like fire-breathers and acrobats can suffer unique and harmful injuries while performing for audiences.
Set Construction: Most don't think about it, but theme parks require massive amounts of set construction, setup and takedown, and maintenance. These jobs can present all kinds of hazards, like exposure to chemicals, falling objects, etc.
Theme Parks Well Protected
One of the other issues that come into serious play when discussing workers' comp and theme parks is the laws protecting these billion dollar companies.
Florida law gives employers loads of different protections from lawsuits brought on by worker injuries and deaths. These laws are the result of an overhaul of the state's workers' compensation laws advocated by former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida's business lobby. These companies were allowed to rewrite the laws in 2003, producing 182 pages of new laws cutting lots of benefits while only increasing a few. For more information on these laws, see this Orlando Sentinel story.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
If you have been injured while working for a theme park, contact the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. You will speak directly with our workers' comp attorney. No pressure, no run-around. Just a free consultation and real advice. Call us at (727) 451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765