The Andres Lopez Law Firm

English-only signs lead to lawsuits

Florida and the rest of the nation are becoming bi-lingual. Failure to recognize this may have legal consequences, even at locations designed for amusement. A Guatemalan family recently filed a personal injury lawsuit against Universal Orlando after their 38-year-old father died because of its allegedly negligent failure to post ride-warning signs in Spanish.

Their father had a fatal heart attack in 2016 after riding on its Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction. This ride, which was open for almost six months before his death, recreates a truck expedition based upon recent versions of King Kong movies.

A sign, in English, is posted to the ride's entrance. It contains a warning that the ride is an expedition through rough terrain and the truck's movement is dynamic with sudden accelerations, serious tilting and jolting actions. People with heart conditions, abnormal blood pressure and back or neck conditions and expectant mothers are warned not to go on the ride. Each of the conditions has an accompanying drawing.

The victim had earlier heart problems and did not speak English, according to the wrongful death lawsuit filed last month. He did not feel well after going on the ride and his wife thought he had an upset stomach. He sat on a bench when his wife and son went on another ride. By the time they returned, he collapsed. He was taken to a hospital where he later died from a fatal heart attack. His family also charged that there was a delay in providing aid after he collapsed.

According to local tourism figures, 6.1 million of metropolitan Orlando's 72 million visitors came from outside the country in 2017. The family's attorney said parks should post warning signs in Spanish and French in addition to English so tourists can make informed decisions about going on rides. Universal Orlando Resort's official blog has Spanish and Portuguese translations.

Many lawsuits against these parks are resolved through quiet settlements, according to 2016 Bloomberg report. Attendance based-injuries dropped slightly from 1,197 2016 to 1,171 in 2017, according to an International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions report issued in Aug. 2018. Ridership injuries fell from 1,253 to 1,035 during that time.

Victims of negligence or their families may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help them pursue a lawsuit when a party does not comply with their duty to provide safe accommodations.

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