As another Florida summer rapidly approaches, so to do those summer celebrations. Whether it’s graduation, the Fourth of July, a family vacation, or simply a summer barbecue, an increase in outdoor activities can also lead to an increase in personal injuries. Sometimes these injuries are minor, such as first-degree burns from a sparkler or a cut from a seashell; however, some injuries associated with summer celebrations can lead to serious personal injuries or even death. Accordingly, do you always have a cause of action for personal injuries associated with your summer activities?
Liability for Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Injuries
According to the Florida Department of Health, male children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 24 have the highest percentage of firework-related injuries in Florida, which includes mostly burns and explosion-related flesh injuries. The majority of firework-related injuries occur to the upper extremities, head, face, and neck, and even if they are not life threatening, they can lead to permanent scarring and disfigurement. Unfortunately, because of the nature of such exploding injuries, approximately 15 percent of all firework-related injuries led to amputation. For example, the most serious firework-related injuries occur when the firework is being set up and explodes early in your hand.
So the question is, can someone be held liable for such injuries? Because utilizing fireworks is an inherently dangerous activity, often you may be liable for your own injuries, especially if you did not handle the fireworks according to safety instructions. However, if you are attending a fireworks show and are injured as the result of an errant firework, you may be able to hold the promoter or property owner liable for not taking certain safety measures. Further, if a firework is defective and you are injured despite following all safety recommendations, you may be able to hold a manufacturer liable in a products liability action.
Due to the heat of Florida summers, boating, swimming, and related water-sport activities are among the most popular summer attractions Florida has to offer. However, the ocean holds many dangers, and it is important to practice caution. Florida’s waterways are crowded during summer months, so collisions and navigation can be difficult. A boating collision may force you to abandon ship or may trap you under a ship’s deck. Further, Florida generally does not require boat operators to have a boating license. All operators need do is take a safety course approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and they will be given a certificate.
Although it is difficult to prove liability in drowning incidents, as you assume the risks associated with swimming in the ocean, if you are injured in a boating accident, you may be able to sue the operator of your boat, or the crew of the boat that hit you, for negligence. Similar standards apply when bringing a cause of action for maritime negligence, but be advised that Florida’s federal courts generally take jurisdiction over matters that occur on the “high seas,” so if you were injured in an admiralty-related accident, it is important to contact a Florida personal injury lawyer who understands the differences associated with maritime negligence.
Some of Florida’s most popular attractions are its various amusement parks, which boast a lot of fun but also a lot of dangers. If you are (legally) at an amusement park, you are what is known as a “business invitee” in legal circles, which means you are due the highest level of safety owed to persons on the premises. This is referred to as “premises liability,” and it generally requires the property owner to actively seek out dangers and then make the property reasonably safe for guests. Further, amusement parks can be held liable in negligence if they failed to do regular safety and maintenance checks of attractions and ensure that their food and drink products are not excessively exposed to heat and bacteria. The following are common duties owed to you at an amusement park:
- Regular safety checks of rides and attractions;
- Replacement of worn or defective seatbelts and safety gear;
- Clean-up of spilled liquids and items;
- Adherence to food and health codes;
- Installing protective barriers between pedestrian walkways and potentially dangerous rides; and
- Maintaining pedestrian areas, which includes fixing or warning patrons of holes and divots.
Further, if a ride was defectively designed or maintained, and you were injured as a result, you may have an action in products liability.
The Doctrine of “Assumption of Risk”
Because many Florida summer activities are inherently dangerous, it is often the case that the “doctrine of assumption of risk” will absolve a potential defendant from liability for your injuries because you were aware of and assumed the risk of the dangers associated with such. For example, if you rode a roller coaster with a heart condition, you likely cannot hold an amusement park liable if the fear you experience on the ride triggers your condition and you suffer injuries as a result. However, liability may still be apportioned for inherently dangerous activities if another’s negligence contributed to or exacerbated your injuries. The can happen if you rode a roller coaster with a heart condition, but the condition was triggered not by fear, but because your seat belt began to loosen during the ride.
A St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney can Review the Facts of Your Case
You should always feel free to enjoy your summer activities, but even if you take certain precautions, you cannot always predict the behavior of another. If you have been injured as a result of your summer celebrations, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney who understands the doctrine of assumption of risk as well as federal maritime law. The Dolman Law Group has your premier personal injury lawyers in Florida. They are here to fight for your right to compensation, and they can advise you as to whether you have a claim for personal injuries under Florida law. Contact them today online or at (727) 222-6922 for a free, no-risk consultation.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712