Injury on a Bumper Car Ride
This recent California Supreme Court Case, Nalwa vs. Cedar Fair, discusses the defenses available to an amusement park owner who is sued by a customer who is injured in a bumper car ride. The court held that the complete defense of “Assumption of the Risk” applied, and prevented, as a matter of law (the case never made it to the jury), the injured guest from suing the amusement park company. The court concluded that this was a “sport or recreational activity”. The court also concluded that the bumper car ride was not like a roller coaster (consider to be a “common carrier”, where the defendant has a higher duty of care. A bumper car is not a “common carrier”.
As a side note, when a person is a passenger on a bus, roller coaster, or pay for ride van, or other similar ride, the courts hold that the defendant bus company is a “common carrier”, and as such, the defendant bus or van owner/driver has a much higher standard of care that they owe to their passengers. That is, they must be much more careful in the operation of their bus, roller coaster, van or such other similar vehicle.
Here in this case the plaintiff’s claim was completely knocked out under this defense of Assumption of the Risk. This defense is available to defendants, and prevents injured parties from recovering anything, not only in the bumper car rides, but also in horseback riding, various sporting activities such as touch football, basketball pick-up games, and a host of other sporting and recreational activities.
The only way around this complete defense is when there is some evidence that the defendant did something that increased the risk that is associated with the activity. For example, in the bumper car ride if the owner had increased the available speed of the cars, or changed the structure of the bumper car, etc.