Universal Studios recently settled a highly publicized lawsuit filed by a man who said he sustained a spinal injury on one of their water slides. Universal has recently come under fire after it was alleged that they misreported injuries on their rides with extremely vague language. As an example, although the man suffered paralysis related to his ride, the injury was reported as something like “back pain”.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was on the water slide when he reportedly suffered an injury that caused “his head to snap back”. The plaintiff now has difficulty walking, is undergoing extensive rehabilitation, and says that his relationship with his family “has suffered” as a result of the injury.
The weight limit on the ride has now been reduced to 150 lbs. The plaintiff weighed 215 lbs at the time of the accident.
Pungo Racers at Volcano Bay
The settlement comes after it was revealed that Universal Studios reportedly knew why so many of their guests were being injured on the Pungo Racers ride at Volcano Bay. Riders were going down the slide much too fast when they exited the ride, and they didn’t have enough room on the exit to clear the wall on the other end. Most water slides have exits of 100- to 150-feet. Pungo Racers had an exit of about 20 feet.
Not only did Universal allegedly know about the problem, but they refused to fix it. It would have cost then around $800,000 to increase the runoff area or $50,000 to replace the mats to slow down riders. When riders hit the runoff area, they entered with such force that it could cause serious neck and spine injuries. One man even reported having part of his penis taken off by the ride.
All told, there have reportedly been 115 known injury reports related to the ride. Universal has been accused of attempting to prevent the government from knowing about these incidents by massively underreporting the details and using vague language to cover up what really happened.
Florida law only requires amusement parks to report injuries that resulted in hospital stays of 24 hours or longer. However, the theme park also conducts their own investigations into ride injuries and it was these documents that provided insight into how Universal Studios handled reports related to the ride.
The lawsuit was settled under seal meaning that neither party will be able to report the terms of the settlement moving forward. Since the man was paralyzed, can no longer do his job, sustained hefty medical expenses, and his quality of life has been seriously reduced, the settlement was likely into 7 figures with compensation available to his wife and children as well.
Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured on an amusement park ride, you don’t have to prove negligence. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at Palmer | Lopez have litigated such cases against theme parks and can help you negotiate a fair settlement for your injuries.