premises liability lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale

Do Florida Halloween Horror Attractions Present Injury Risks?

It’s the annual season of Halloween horror nights at theme parks in Florida and across the U.S. These parks, which during the day tout family friendly fun, turn into nighttime scare-fests more suitable for adult customers who thrill to the terrors of zombies, witches and ghosts that run amok, dripping blood and rotting flesh.

Amusement parks are huge operations serving up entertainment to millions of visitors every year. Add in the thousands of employees and vendors on the premises during business hours and you essentially have a small city with all the usual problems any city may have, including accidents.

Park injuries commonly reported by visitors include slip-and-fall, food poisoning, and harm resulting from being jostled on rides or being hit by debris flung off high-velocity juggernauts like roller coasters.

With the chills and thrills of horror nights, visitors may be exposed to additional dangers. Each year parks vie to outdo competitor parks and their own previous terrifying attractions, creating labyrinthine mazes where maniacs stalk every twist and bend and haunted houses where chainsaw-wielding spooks chase visitors through the halls.

Here are just a couple of examples of what theme parks have in store for visitors this Halloween: Universal Studios in Orlando will offer an “Immersive Paranormal Virtual Reality Experience,” where guests will wear VR headgear while exploring a horrific experience like no other. Similarly, Halloween Haunt at California’s Great America will offer FEAR VR: 5150, set in a hospital where guests are strapped into wheelchairs while wearing VR headgear and at the mercy of lunatic staff members.

Are Parks Liable for Injuries?

Special seasonal events like horror nights can be priced as add-ons to a general admission ticket, and the per-person cost can easily exceed $100. At these rates, it’s not unreasonable to ask whether parks are legally responsible for guests who suffer trauma when they are lost or abandoned in their mazes or faint when surprised by a costumed character jumping out of the shadows.


Often to protect themselves from lawsuits theme parks will require that their guests sign waivers relieving the park of liability if a guest is injured while at the park. Many parks that host special events like Halloween nights will prepare waivers written specifically for hazards guests may encounter while participating in the event.

For the waiver to be legally valid it must:

Be clearly worded as to the intent to relieve the park of any and all legal liability, including liability for negligence;
Prominently display the terms and not conceal them in fine print;
Signed by the each individual guest, though an adult can sign a waiver for each minor child;

A waiver pertaining to an amusement such as a haunted house, also may include warnings for guests who have high blood pressure, heart problems, artificial limbs, pacemakers, or other physical limitations.

Even where a guest has signed a waiver, the park can be found liable when shown it negligently failed to:

Maintain equipment and all attractions in a safe condition and regularly inspect the equipment;
Properly train the ride operators;
Properly operate a ride or amusement;
Properly display safety requirement notices warning guests of the risks and dangers; or/and
Provide guests with correct safety instructions.

Guest Conduct

It’s not only park management that is required to act responsibly; guests, too, are expected to behave properly.

When you knowingly engage in an activity or event considered inherently dangerous, you are presumed to have assumed the risk associated with that activity. Arguably, when you participate in a horror event you acknowledge and accept the risks. But the risks must be those you reasonably could know about. It is not reasonable to expect you to know about a defective or poorly maintained mechanism in a ride or to know of special safety rules if you were not instructed on them.

If you ignore posted age, weight, or height requirements or deliberately lie about such limitations, the theme park may not be liable for your injuries if they result from your disregard of the rules. The park could still be held liable if the ride/attraction operator should have realized a guest was too young or too small or recognized an obvious disability that could expose you to greater risk.

Disclaimers on Park Tickets

Amusement parks usually print disclaimers on admission tickets relieving the park of all liability when you enter the park, extinguishing your right to sue the park. Courts tend to reject such disclaimers for being vague and all-inclusive and therefore unreasonable. Courts accept that most guests don’t read the tiny print on the back of their ticket, and a ticket holder who is a minor lacks the capacity to waive legal rights merely by virtue of redeeming the ticket.

Know the Dangers and Your Responsibilities

To protect yourself and your family, before buying tickets and before arriving at the theme park you should learn what you can about the potential hazards and possible age and physical restrictions. Go to the website of the park you plan to visit. You will find in-depth information on ticket price, passes, add-ons and more.

Look for warnings and disclaimers, which may limit the age of guests permitted to attend horror nights and require minors under a certain age be accompanied by an adult. Typically, parks will not impose an age limit on admission to their horror show but will recommend that persons under 13 or other age not participate.

If the park provides a copy of its waiver through its website, you should print out a copy and read it carefully. Some parks my demand that your party arrive 30-45 minutes early so that you can undergo safety preparation of some kind. You also can visit to learn tips for making your trip to a park safe and enjoyable.

If you are injured during a visit to a theme park, our experienced Florida personal injury attorneys can help. Call our offices today for a free case consultation. At Madalon Law, our Fort Lauderdale attorneys will always put your needs first.

Security in South Florida Bars and Clubs: Do I Need a Lawyer?


Natives and visitors alike enjoy the beaches and nightlife in Florida, often including the “night club experience” in bars and nightclubs throughout Broward, Miami and Palm Beach. Usually, this means a fun night of hanging out with friends, drinking, meeting fun people, and dancing. Unfortunately, there can be a dark side to these clubs as well, as evidenced by the growing number of dangerous night club incidents such as drunken brawls, stabbings, and even shootings.

Our Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys know such incidents have led to increased security measures at many bars and clubs, and have brought night club safety and security into the legal spotlight. The owners of Florida clubs and bars have the duty to keep their patrons safe, and when injuries happen, those owners may be held liable for compensating victims under the law of premises liability. In one recent Florida court case regarding inadequate security, a night club patron who was severely beaten won an award of over one million dollars from the club owners. The plaintiff’s argument was that the security provided at the nightclub was inadequate, and that the club owner’s negligence contributed to the assault and battery that he suffered there.

Inadequate Security Laws in Florida

The state of Florida has premises liability laws regarding “inadequate security,” to protect patrons and visitors at businesses and public places from criminal or violent activity. Although these laws do not require that the owner of a nightclub or bar protect its patrons against any conceivable harm from third parties, they are legally required to take measures to protect patrons from reasonably foreseeable harm.
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What Do You Need to Prove a Slip and Fall Claim?

When someone slips and falls in a store, a public space, or someone else’s property, it is not automatically cause for a slip and fall claim. Whether the injured party wants to pursue an insurance settlement, or is interested in a personal injury lawsuit, there are key questions that must be answered regarding fault and liability – and evidence that must be gathered as proof.

When an injury accident is the result of something or someone outside of your control, you often have legal recourse to obtain compensation for injuries and other expenses. The principal issue determining whether or not you have a case is that of liability. In short, in Slip and Fall (premises liability) cases, you must have proof that the property owner – or entity responsible for managing the property – is liable for your injuries due to negligence or intentional wrongdoing that caused (or failed to prevent) the accident and injuries.

To prove negligence, you will need many kinds of evidence – the more the better. Types of evidence that may help you prove your case are:

Photographs of the scene: If you have a smartphone at the time of your slip and fall accident, you should take pictures of the specific cause of your fall (such as the puddle of liquid on the floor), as well as your surroundings. Include evidence of poor lighting, missing railings or signage, crowded aisles, and maintenance tools (such as a mop or towels near a leak). Such photos will back up your claims that 1) there was a hazardous condition, 2) the property owner was or should have been aware of it, and 3) there was inadequate warning regarding the hazard.

Evidence of your injuries: Photographs may also help to document your injuries, but medical reports from EMTs, ER visits, or follow-up physician appointments are even more vital. Many slip and fall accident attorneys have access to medical professionals who can attest to the fact that the injuries recorded could or did result from the type of fall you experienced.

Witness statements, accident reports, and security video if possible: If anyone was around to witness your accident, you should get their contact information and a statement from them, explaining what they saw and what they noticed about the hazardous conditions in question. If possible, get statements regarding how long the hazard was there or the property owner’s prior knowledge of it from employees or other customers. You should also request copies of any official accident/incident reports drawn up by employees on the premises, as well as copies of security footage that may have captured the incident. You should try to request these pieces of evidence as soon as possible, before anything is misplaced, altered, forgotten or deleted.
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Understanding Premises Liability

If you or a loved one is injured on property (premises) owned by another party, that property owner may be liable for damages incurred in the accident or incident. Any instance in which someone suffers injury because a property owner has been negligent – whether by failing to maintain the property, providing insufficient security, or failing to caution visitors regarding known hazards – may be grounds for a premises liability lawsuit.

What Makes a Premises Liability Case?

A personal injury attorney can tell you if your case falls under the purview of premises liability law. To obtain compensation in such a case, you will have to prove that:

  • You were on the premises lawfully (invited by the owner, on public land, in a retail establishment during open hours) and/or with the knowledge of the property owner;
  • The owner of the property knew or should have known about the hazardous condition that caused the injury – and failed to adequately address the issue, including blocking access, repair or removal of hazards, and/or warning of dangers;
  • The hazardous condition and negligence of the property owner was the cause of your injury or a victim’s wrongful death.

According to personal injury law, a premises liability case may deal with injuries caused by a wide range of hazardous situations, including slip and fall accidents, assaults that result from insufficient security on the premises, falling objects, and even car accidents due to insufficient signage or lighting in parking lots.
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Crowded Malls Can Lead to Slip and Falls

Not too long ago, there were crowds of people waiting outside of stores and malls for Black Friday sales. News stations did not fail to report the rowdiness created by these crowds. From cutting in line to pushing; short tempers, violence, and injuries have unfortunately become part of what we call Black Friday.

The more crowded a place is, the more there is a chance that an accident will occur. Holiday shoppers encountered heavily crowded malls and stores. What happens when someone decides to buy a drink from the mall food court and spills some of that drink inside of a store that you happen to be walking in? If this slippery substance goes unnoticed and unmodified by store personnel, you’re chances of injury has increased. What do you do in the event that you encounter this slippery substance or any other tripping hazard and injure yourself because of a fall?

Popular crowded shopping areas in South Florida include:

• Sawgrass Mills Mall (City of Sunrise in Broward County)
• Aventura Mall (City of Aventura in Miami-Dade County)
• The Galleria Mall (City of Fort Lauderdale in Broward County)
• Coral Square Mall (City of Coral Springs in Broward County)
• Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (City of Hollywood in Broward County)
• South Beach (City of Miami Beach in Dade County)
• Dolphin Mall (City of Sweetwater in Miami-Dade)
• Town Center Mall (City of Boca Raton in Palm Beach County)
• City Place (Palm Beach County)

Premise Liability

Slip and fall injuries occurring inside of a business establishment fall under what is called premises liability. It is important to understand how the law functions with regard to premise liability. You should never think that these things cannot and will not happen to you. Unfortunately, slip and falls occur quite frequently.

Business Invitee

The status of a person that goes into a store or mall is called business invitee. For the most part, a business invitee enters a store because he will buy items (i.e., conduct business dealings). The premises owner owes certain duties to a business invitee including: keeping the premises in a safe condition, conducting inspections to look for hidden dangers, and warning invitees of known and existing dangers. Thus, if you walk into that store wherein another business invitee dropped some liquid, and consequently fall and obtain injuries, you may have a valid claim against the store owner because a duty to keep the premises safe for you and other invitees existed.

Protect Your Claim

If you are injured in a Florida shopping mall or store, you must take certain steps to protect your claim. The most important thing is always one’s health. In the absence of obvious injury, such as a broken arm, it is typical that one would like to avoid going to the emergency room or doctor. It is important to understand that even if you feel no pain immediately after the fall, this does not mean that in the later days your body will not feel pain. If treatment is delayed, it may seem as if the incident and injury was not serious. Thus, even when the adrenaline caused by the accident may hide the true impact received by your body, it is important to seek medical attention regardless.
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Slip and Fall Accidents in Walmart

Walmart stores are known for their “Big Box” status – similar to Sam’s Club, Costco, or Home Depot. 24 hours a day, Walmart shoppers can find almost anything, from fast food and groceries to auto parts, electronics, and even garden equipment. Not all of these big box stores are perfectly maintained, and the mix of all of those different retail goods and services under one giant roof can lead to hazardous conditions where customers or employees can have a dangerous slip and fall accident.

Retailers of any size are required by law to maintain their stores and parking lots in clean and safe conditions to protect their employees and the public from injury or death. Walmart stores are immense and open 24 hours a day. This makes maintenance a challenge and also costs money and employee time. When management is negligent by not remaining aware of maintenance issues – or purposely cuts corners to save money – slip and fall accidents are more likely to occur.

A slip and fall accident may be caused by liquid on the floor, slippery items like crushed fruit, greasy spots from fast food preparation, small items such as spilled dog kibble or cat litter, or even boxes or signage left on the floor. Hazardous conditions such as these should be spotted, designated as hazardous with a caution sign, and thoroughly cleaned up within a reasonable amount of time from the spill. If this does not happen, then the store management can be found to have been negligent, failing to properly maintain, inspect, and operate their store in a reasonably safe condition, and failing to warn approaching customers of hazards.

A customer or employee who suffers injury from such an accident may very well have a personal injury case on their hands, and may sue for damages. But Walmart is not only a big store, it is a giant corporation, with an extensive legal department and customer claims division – so anyone dealing with Walmart in a legal situation should immediately seek the services of an attorney.

A personal injury attorney knows what evidence, information, and types of witness testimony are needed in order to win a slip and fall case against a giant like Walmart. They can demand surveillance videos of the area in which the fall occurred, request copies of maintenance records from Walmart itself as well as any maintenance company who did repairs on faulty equipment. The attorney can also deal with the claims department, medical personnel and insurance agencies, so the only thing you have to worry about is healing from your injuries.
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Swimming Pool Accidents :: Pool Safety Tips that Can Be the Difference Between Life and Death


A family vacation took a tragic turn when a 6 year old boy drowned in one of the pools aboard a Carnival Cruise Line ship while at sea. Qwentyn Hunter was playing with his 10 year old brother, when suddenly he began to drown. There was a cry for help and the DJ announced there was a child in the pool. Passengers dove in to save the boy and pulled him out of the 4 ½ foot deep pool. Passengers were the first to administer CPR until Carnival’s medical team arrived – Carnival does not have lifeguards on its ships.

Witnesses say the attempts to save Qwentyn’s life lasted around the 20 minute mark. It is also reported that one of the parents was at the pool when he drowned. Witnesses said it happened so fast, by the time they got to him it was too late. It is unknown how long he was underwater. There are currently no laws requiring cruise ships to post lifeguards at their pools.

Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Florida loses more children under the age of five to drowning than any other state. The unintentional drowning rate was so alarming, that the Office of Injury Prevention developed a campaign to raise awareness and educate the public on pool safety tips.

A few simple steps can make all of the difference:

• Choose designated swimming areas (preferably with lifeguards present).
• Do not allow little ones to swim alone. Avoid this even if it is at a lifeguard beach or public pool.
• Make sure children learn how to swim well at an early age – there are various organizations and programs throughout South Florida.
• Never walk away and leave a child unattended near water. If you leave someone to watch them, make sure it is another adult and not another child. Water that appears shallow is often deep.
• Explain the dangers to young children and teach them to always ask permission to go near water.
• Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear approved life jackets around water. Make it a point to also explain that having a life jacket on does not mean it is ok to be careless.
• Establish swimming rules for the family and make sure that you enforce them.
• Make sure to also set rules based on each individual person’s swimming ability. For example, a smaller child that may not know how to swim may have to stay on the steps of the pool, where others may not be able to cross a certain line or mark that goes into the deep side of the pool.
• Be careful walking by shorelines, lakes and rivers. Currents, temperatures and underwater hazards can make an accidental fall dangerous.
• If you are on a boat, please wear a life jacket. The majority of boating fatalities are drowning accidents.

Making the Pool Safer:

• Make sure to install barriers that enclose the entire pool area. They should at least be 4-feet high with gates that are self-enclosing, self-latching and open outward (away from the pool). The latches should be high enough so that small children cannot reach them.
• Move structures that can provide access to the pool. This can include outdoor furniture, decorative walls, playgrounds and climbable trees.
• If you have an inflatable pool, make sure to remove access ladders when it is not in use.
• Do not leave toys that are not in use in the pool. A toy can catch the attention of a young child and tempt them to reach for the toy.

In Case of Emergency:

• If a child is missing, check the water first. Getting there seconds earlier can prevent disability or death.
• Take a course on pool safety and learn CPR. It cost almost nothing and can be the difference between life and death.
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