Water parks commonly feature multiple swimming pools, water slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, artificial beaches, catering options, and spa and bathroom facilities. A sufficient number of staff need to be on duty to supervise activities, including trained lifeguards and ride operators to ensure that safe operating procedures are followed and help is immediately on hand in the event of an accident.
This includes monitoring the behaviour of visitors to make sure that irresponsible individual conduct does not pose a risk to others. This is often a challenge for lifeguards supervising crowded swimming pools and wave pools when visibility is limited and they may fail to notice a swimmer in trouble.
Hazards at water parks also result from an absence of warning signs, especially those which mark the depth of pool areas. This is a particular danger when people choose to dive into unmarked sections of a pool.
Swimmers may also pose a hazard to others if they disregard common sense safety precautions, for example, by running and jumping into a pool without looking to see where they will land first. It is a lifeguard's duty to prevent such dangerous behaviour as far as reasonably possible.
Ride operators, meanwhile, must ensure that a water park’s rides operate properly and the risk of mechanical failure is minimised. Lack of maintenance can make rides and swimming pools hazardous, as can manufacturing defects and design flaws, and these are all areas which water park management and staff must pay attention to.
Swimming pools may also lack essential safety equipment such as a well-stocked first aid kit, emergency telephone or buoyancy aids which can be thrown to swimmers in trouble. Eating and drinking facilities at water parks should also be well maintained and hygienic, with an efficient system of inspection and cleaning in place.
Water slides are the location where a high proportion of water park accidents occur, especially collisions and injuries caused by the high speed and force of impact, as well as falls from inner tubes or even off the slide itself. These accidents can result in back and neck injuries, including whiplash and spinal damage, with potentially very serious long-term consequences, which again highlights the importance of proper supervision and maintenance at water parks.
Given the constantly wet and slippery surfaces at water parks, slips and falls unsurprisingly cause the most accidents and visitor injuries, and staff must make sure that surfaces in public areas such as on pool decks, walkways, stairs and changing rooms are kept as dry as possible in order to minimise the risk of slipping accidents. Tiling may be damaged, potentially causing trips and falls onto hard surfaces or sharp edges. The level of chlorine and PH balance of the water must also both be maintained at recognised and safe legal standards.
Illnesses caused by contaminated water are also relatively common, particularly gastrointestinal illnesses including norovirus, while cases of hepatitis A and Legionnaires’ disease from bacteria in water have been reported at water parks worldwide. Management and staff are responsible for maintaining sanitary conditions at water parks, and must take every practical measure to minimise the risk of visitors contracting illnesses.
If you have been injured in an accident at a water park or developed an illness caused by poor hygiene, contact our firm for expert legal advice from solicitors who have recently successfully handled water park personal injury compensation claims on behalf of clients.
A recent client of Bartletts Solicitors was injured while visiting a water park and later successfully claimed personal injury compensation from the attraction’s owners. Ms J was sliding down an inner tube ride on a water slide at high speed when the tube flipped over, throwing her over the edge of the slide onto the hard earth surface below. She sustained a broken collarbone and a concussion from hitting her head in the accident, and received immediate medical attention at the scene from the water park’s lifeguards and medical staff before being taken to hospital for treatment.
Apart from the pain and distress caused by her injuries, Ms J was forced to take two months off work while she recovered, and went on to develop both anxiety and depression as a result of the accident. While she went on to make a full recovery, the negative experience of the accident and its consequences made her determined to take legal action.
Ms J contacted our firm, and on the advice of our personal injury team decided to proceed with a no win no fee claim against the water park and its owners. In correspondence with the park’s insurance company, we argued that either a design flaw with the water slide itself or faulty installation creating the wrong gradient or insufficient curve width meant that when Ms J’s inner tube flipped, the slide’s edges were not sufficiently high to prevent her being thrown from the ride.
The water park’s failure to implement and enforce proper safety limits was therefore the main cause of the accident and Ms J’s injuries. After a few months of correspondence, the water park’s insurers acknowledged that an issue with the slide’s installation was the likely cause of the accident, and this admission of liability resulted in Ms J receiving a cheque for £6,500 in compensation.