This past weekend, my daughter and I traveled to Bucks County, PA and visited Sesame Place, the amusement park based on the hit kids television show, Sesame Street. We had a fantastic time at the park which included roller coasters, water rides, face panting, and a lot more.
There was one moment at the park that gave me a little bit of a scare, which leads to the topic of this article: I accidently hurt someone, now what?…
Negligence Is Covered
One of the great parts about most property insurance policies, like Homeowners, Condominium, Renters, and Mobilehome Insurance, is that they include worldwide liability insurance coverage. Most people never think about this stuff but it can pop up when you least expect it.
When I was at Sesame Place, I was getting onto the ride with the individual swings what hang on chains and spin in a circle. I don’t remember the name of the ride but I’ve included a picture of my daughter riding it. If I had to estimate, the swings hang about 12 feet below the hook that attaches them to the ride. This distance allows the seat to swing outwards while the ride is in motion and it’s the main thrill of the ride.
What I realize in retrospect, but not at the moment I was sitting in the seat, is that this approximate 12 feet of chain also allows the seat to move pretty far forward and backwards when sitting in it. After I strapped my daughter into her seat, I sat down in the seat next to her. When I was sitting, the seat moved backward at least a foot. I was not expecting this movement and neither was the woman who I hit with my seat while I was sitting.
There was a woman standing directly behind my seat who was strapping her child into their seat. When I sat down, her back was to me and my seat swung and hit her backside when I lifted my feet off the ground. I could tell that the bump hurt her a little and I promptly apologized. She said she was okay, smiled and we both went about our days.
I Didn’t Mean To Do It
The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt someone else. I didn’t mean to hit her with the seat. Since I wasn’t very familiar with this ride, I wasn’t thinking about this potential outcome of sitting in the seat. We were all lucky this time that nobody was seriously hurt but this accident could have been much worse. The seats have exposed metal edges which could have hurt the woman more severely. If I had sat down more aggressively causing my seat to swing faster and harder, I may have knocked her down or injured her.
Who Gets Sued?
In situations like this, the amusement park could potentially be sued but I could also be potentially sued as well. The amusement park undoubtedly has insurance for these types of events and I assume they are sued multiple times each year for various reasons, but, what happens if individuals at the park are sued?
I am not an attorney and I can’t provide legal advice so I cannot tell you if you would be sued or not. What I can tell you is that if you are sued, your property insurance policy would most likely provide coverage to defend you and pay any settlements that you may owe (up to your policy coverage limit). Also, if you have an Umbrella Insurance policy, you would have coverage beyond the coverage limits of your property insurance policy.
Intentional Acts Aren’t Covered
I think it goes without saying but intentional acts aren’t covered. For example, if I had purposefully hit that woman with my seat and caused an injury, my insurance polices would not protect me from a lawsuit. You’re on your own if you meant to do it.
Worldwide Liability Coverage
Most property insurance policies provide liability coverage anywhere in the world. This is great if you’re a world traveler but it’s also great when you travel across town. All sorts of things could be covered such as the baseball which dents the hood on a car in the parking lot, to the elderly person that you inadvertently knocked down with your rolling luggage at the airport plus countless other examples.
Do You Have Enough Liability Coverage?
If you’re unsure if you have enough liability insurance coverage, we should talk. As a rule of thumb, you should have enough liability insurance to cover all of your assets. We can fine tune that when we have a conversation about your specific situation. Please contact us or call 518-877-7447 to schedule a time to connect about your situation.
John Lofrumento, CFP®, FSCP®, RICP®
President, The Lofrumento Agency
Clifton Park, NY / Ballston Lake, NY