Tragedy struck at an Orlando amusement park on March 24, 2022, when a 14-year-old Missouri boy fell to his death. Tyre Sampson was riding the ICON park FreeFall ride, described as the world’s tallest freestanding drop tower, when he fell out of his seat during the ride’s drop down the tower. Sampson’s death has led to questions about the safety of amusement park rides in general and about who is liable when someone is injured or dies on a ride.
The Orlando amusement park accident attorneys at Bailey Fisher are all too familiar with the devastation that is often caused by an amusement park ride accident. If you were injured or lost a loved one in an amusement park accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical injuries, emotional trauma, or loss. We are committed to holding all parties accountable when an amusement park ride causes injury or death.
What Happened on the FreeFall Ride?
It will likely be months, even years before we know exactly what happened the night Tyre Sampson fell from the FreeFall ride. What we do know is that the ride just opened at the end of 2021 and was touted as the world’s tallest drop tower. Riders sit in seats surrounding the tower and are slowly lifted 430 feet to the top of the tower. The ride then tilts forward 30 degrees before dropping riders back down the tower at speeds of up to 75 m.p.h., causing them to feel as though they are free-falling for a few seconds. When riders get close to the bottom the ride decelerates, eventually landing them back on the ground. Video taken by someone on the ground appears to show Sampson falling out of his seat when the tower begins to decelerate. Sampson, an honor roll student and aspiring football player, was visiting Orlando with his football team over spring break.
The ride passed a safety inspection — with no deficiencies noted — by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) on December 20, 2021, prior to opening. The ride would have been inspected again in June of this year. FDACS is now responsible for investigating the tragic accident to determine what happened and who may be liable. FDACS is charged with inspecting all amusement rides in Florida, except for those at large parks that have more than 1,000 employees and have full-time inspectors on staff. FreeFall riders are supposed to be strapped into the ride using a harness that goes over the chest of the rider, locking it in place before the ride begins its ascent.
Who Might Be Liable for the FreeFall Accident?
No amount of compensation can give Sampson’s parents back their son. By the same token, figuring out what went wrong and who is responsible for his death will not turn back the clock and keep his death from occurring. His death, however, does raise questions from anyone who has ever ridden an amusement park ride. Chief among those questions is “who is liable when someone is injured or dies in an amusement park accident?”
Injuries, including fatalities, that occur while riding an amusement park ride are often caused by the negligence of another party or parties. The owner/operator as well as anyone involved in the design, manufacture, or sale of the ride could be held legally responsible for amusement park injuries under the legal doctrines of premises liability and/or products liability.
Premises liability law allows the owner/occupier of a property to be held liable for injuries sustained by a visitor to the property. When the visitor is classified as a “business invitee,” Florida law imposes a duty of reasonable care on a property owner/occupier, commensurate with the nature of the property and the activity involved on the property. Places of amusement, like ICON Park, Disney, and Universal, are held to a higher degree of diligence with respect to the maintenance of their properties compared to other commercial businesses because of the nature of the activities conducted on the property and the fact that large numbers of people pay handsomely for the entertainment provided. A business invitee is someone who was invited to the property for a specific purpose that is directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the owner/occupier of the land. A guest at an amusement park is classified as a business invitee.
If a product defect caused or contributed to Sampon’s death, anyone involved in the “chain of distribution” could be held liable, including the product designer, product or component manufacturer, and product assembler or installer as well as the wholesaler and retailer. In this case, a defective design, a defect introduced during the manufacture of the ride, improper installation, or failure to provide adequate warnings to riders could all lead to liability in a product liability lawsuit.
Finally, the owner/operator of an amusement park ride has a continuing duty to inspect rides to ensure that they are functioning properly and are safe for riders. They are also responsible for properly training employees regarding safety practices and the operation of the ride. If the ride owner/operator failed to properly inspect and make repairs and/or properly train employees, that negligence could lead to legal liability for injuries sustained in an accident.
Compensation in an Orlando Amusement Park Wrongful Death
When an amusement park ride accident results in a fatality, as was the case at ICON park, surviving family members may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Florida law allows a spouse, child, parent, or blood relative or adoptive sibling who was “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services” to file as a survivor claimant in a wrongful death lawsuit. Certain of Sampson’s family members, therefore, could be entitled to compensation for the emotional pain and suffering caused by his death, as well as potential economic damages recoverable by his estate.
Get Help from Experienced Orlando Amusement Park Accident Attorneys
If you were injured or lost a loved one in an Orlando amusement park accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your physical and emotional injuries. The experienced Orlando amusement park accident attorneys at Bailey Fisher Law will aggressively pursue all potentially responsible parties to ensure that they are all held accountable and that you are fully compensated.
Call us at 407-628-2929 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Orlando amusement park accident attorneys will evaluate your case for free. For viable personal injury cases, we will follow up with the necessary legal action to hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence and recover the financial compensation you deserve for your pain, suffering, and losses.