Ziplines are supposed to be a safe activity for children and adults alike. However, the Artegon Marketplace accident, in which a man plunged to his death, highlights the potential dangers of aerial rides. The man’s family filed a lawsuit alleging that the Sky Trail course at Artegon Marketplace in Orlando was defective and that the company failed to follow safety standards. The parties recently settled the claim.
The increasing number of injuries and fatalities in zipline accidents raises several questions for those enjoying aerial rides, such as:
How safe are ziplines?
What should I do if an accident happens?
Defective ziplines can lead to tragic accidents, injuries, and deaths. If you or a loved one got hurt in a zipline accident, Morgan & Morgan’s premises liability lawyers can walk you through your options. You could be entitled to damages such as medical expenses, wage losses, pain and suffering, and more. Contact us now to discover your legal options in a free case review.
What Is the Artegon Accident Settlement?
Festival Bay and Artegon Marketplace, now Dezerland Park, is an Orlando amusement park and shopping mall. In 2014, 52-year-old Robert Belvoir died on the Sky Trails zipline at the Artegon Marketplace after his harness broke loose at the course’s highest point. Belvoir fell 30 feet to the ground, landing on the cement floor in front of his daughter. The victim’s daughter subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the attraction’s manufacturer, Ropes Courses Inc. Her attorney alleged that there was a design defect and the accident was preventable. Before using the zipline, Robert Belvoir had followed all applicable safety rules, which the attraction’s safety manager confirmed.
The lawsuit between the family and the mall was settled in late 2016. However, the accident raised many questions and concerns about the safety of ziplines and aerial adventures in the nation.
Zipline Accidents Across the Country
Ziplining is generally safe, providing the attraction is in good repair and riders follow safety precautions. However, as ziplining becomes increasingly popular, accidents are bound to happen. When individuals fall from a great height, life-changing injuries and deaths can occur. Injuries also arise when zipline riders collide with or crash into objects at the end of the course. Some recent zipline accidents across the US include:
- A California zipline employee plunged 100 feet to his death in 2021, trying to save a woman who was stuck on the zipline.
- A zipline employee died at Vermont Stowe Mountain Resort in 2021 after hitting an anchoring platform supporting the line.
- A 12-year-old girl fell over 40 feet to her death at a summer camp in North Carolina in 2015 due to a zipline tether snapping.
According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, zipline accidents are rising in the United States, with an estimated 16,850 zipline-related injuries treated in emergency departments from 1997 through 2012. The data also showed an increase in the frequency of accidents over time.
Aerial Adventures – An Underregulated Industry
Ziplines currently lack federal regulations, and state laws regarding zipline safety differ widely. While many zipline companies adhere to voluntary industry standards for equipment, maintenance, and training, not all operators comply. A lack of regulation means that ziplines could be more dangerous than similar attractions. After the fatal accident at Artegon, leaders in the industry have called for stricter self-policing and more uniform standards in the aerial adventures industry.
The Florida Department of Agriculture inspects most visitor attractions and rides twice a year. However, implementing industry standards surrounding training and equipment in the industry is voluntary. In a bid to increase profits, companies may cut corners on visitor and employee safety.
Are Ziplines Safe?
Most ziplines are neither defective nor dangerous. According to the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), the chance of a zipline breaking is only one in a billion. However, deadly accidents such as the Artegon case can occur due to human error. Moreover, the rapid increase in zipline-related accidents and injuries in recent years points to the urgent need for uniform safety regulations for commercial ziplines. Homemade and amateur ziplines may not be safe and should not be used.
How You Can Stay Safe
Ziplining can be a lot of fun and a great activity for the entire family. However, knowing what to do to stay safe can be crucial. Generally, avoid homemade ziplines in backyards or local attractions and only use reputable companies and courses with safety standards. Here are some other tips for staying safe at aerial attractions:
Follow All Safety Instructions Diligently
Zipline users must be strapped into strong and secure safety harnesses to keep them safe. Therefore, never tamper with or loosen your harness until you have finished the course. Moreover, operators generally brief riders about their safety and security before sending them on the course. It is critical that you listen to the induction and follow all directions from your zipline operator to have a fun and safe aerial experience.
Check the Operator’s Better Business Bureau Report
You can quickly check out a zipline company on the internet by searching the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. If you see multiple complaints about the company’s safety standards, it’s probably to avoid this particular zipline course.
Find Out About Staff Training
A Center for Injury Research and Policy study on zipline-related injuries recommends only using a company with competent staff. Employees and managers should be able to explain how their training meets industry safety standards. Staff or managers dodging your questions about security training is a red flag.
Ask for Inspection Reports
An aerial ride attraction should be regularly inspected and maintained. Therefore, if you ask, the company should be able to show you an inspection or maintenance report. If the zipline operator cannot show you any maintenance records, you should avoid them. You could be putting your health and safety at risk.
Common Causes of Zipline Injuries
The Artegon Accident lawsuit alleged that the victim fell and died due to a design defect in the course. Sometimes, zipline courses and equipment have defects or faults stemming from the manufacturing process. In these cases, the maker of the equipment rather than the operator could be liable for a victim’s damages. Other reasons for zipline accidents include:
Negligent Zipline Operation
Zipline operators should only employ experienced and well-trained staff. Employees must ensure that riders wear safety gear correctly to avoid injuring themselves or others. There should also be regular safety checks of the zipline and equipment.
Collisions with objects or other users can have catastrophic consequences. Individuals must be able to control their speed of descent while on the zipline. If the brake system is malfunctioning, riders are more likely to experience severe injuries from collisions with other riders or structures.
Improper Courses or Malfunctioning Equipment
Safety equipment can vary according to numerous factors, including:
- The rider’s age
- The rider’s height and weight
- The nature of the zipline course
Wearing the wrong type of safety equipment can be fatal. Moreover, a defective course with worn parts or broken anchor points can jeopardize visitors’ safety.
Those injured due to defective ziplines or lack of safety protocol could have legal recourse against zipline companies. According to premises liability laws, companies must ensure that facilities and attractions are reasonably safe for visitors and users of the rides. Victims coming to harm due to a company’s negligence could recover compensation with the help of a Morgan & Morgan premises liability lawyer.
Your Next Best Steps After a Zipline Accident
When you or a loved one is hurt in a zipline accident, protecting your legal rights by taking the following steps can be crucial:
Get Medical Help Immediately
Make sure you get medically evaluated as soon as possible after a zipline accident, even if you initially feel fine. A doctor can diagnose your injuries and ensure that you receive adequate treatment promptly. Moreover, to qualify for damages such as medical bills, income loss, and others, you will need medical reports to prove your injuries.
Report Your Zipline Accident and Injuries
Make sure to report your accident and injury to zipline staff and insist on filing an official report. The report should include the time and day of the accident, details of your injuries, and a description of what happened. If there are any eyewitnesses, ensure to record their contact details. Witness statements could be essential if you later file a lawsuit.
Collect Evidence of Your Accident and Injuries
If you can, take photos of the accident scene and any faulty or broken equipment involved in the accident. Other crucial evidence to prove your claim can include:
- Accident reports
- Witness statements
- Medical reports
- CCTV camera recordings of the zipline
Speak to a Premises Liability Lawyer
Unfortunately, even in the nation’s leading amusement parks, accidents can still happen due to poor staff training, inadequate maintenance, and other operator failures.
However, if your injuries were caused by a defective zipline, we could fight for what you deserve. In the first instance, a premises liability attorney from Morgan & Morgan can help you understand your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation.
How Morgan & Morgan Could Help
Fighting a lawsuit against a zipline operator or manufacturer can be challenging and stressful. Our attorneys can handle your claim from beginning to end while you can concentrate on healing. We can:
- Provide legal guidance and advocate for your rights
- Help you seek medical treatment
- Gather evidence for your zipline accident claim
- Determine all liable parties
- Negotiate a fair out-of-court settlement with the insurance company or defendant
- Present your case strongly at trial
Unlike other law firms, we don’t settle for a second-best offer. Our seasoned trial lawyers always fight for the maximum possible compensation, even if it means taking a case to trial. You don’t pay us unless we win and recover compensation.
Contact Us Now
If you or a loved one got hurt due to a defective zipline, you don’t have to handle the legal process on your own. Morgan & Morgan’s premises liability lawyers want to help. Contact us today to determine whether you qualify for compensation.