Florida House bill seeks to shield roller-skating rinks from injury claims
Image via Associated Press.

roller skates AP
Skate at your own risk? Yes, unless rink owners are guilty of 'gross negligence.'

A Central Florida Republican believes that roller skaters are just going around in circles if they want to blame the rink for injuries incurred.

Rep. Susan Plasencia filed on Friday HB 1129, legislation that if passed would memorialize the state’s position that skaters are operating at their own risk, and that skating rinks and the people who own and manage them are not to blame.

“A roller skater or spectator at a roller-skating rink assumes the inherent risks in the activity of roller skating irrespective of age and is legally responsible for all damages and injury to himself or herself or other persons or property which result from this activity. An operator is not required to eliminate, alter, or control the inherent risks in this activity,” the bill contends.

The so-called “Roller Skating Rink Safety Act” contemplates a new section of Florida statute, “Roller Skating Rink Safety.”

“The Legislature finds that the recreational activity of roller skating is practiced by a large number of residents of the state, roller skating is a wholesome and healthy family activity that should be encouraged, and the allocation of risks and costs of roller skating is an important matter of public policy,” the bill contends.

Indeed, it’s that “allocation of risks and costs” that bears a particular impact on rink owners and operators, preventing the insuring of these operations from being “economically feasible” for carriers.

Owners “face great difficulty in obtaining liability insurance coverage at an affordable cost and that the lack of affordable insurance coverage affects not only owners of roller-skating rinks, but also persons who may suffer personal injuries or property damages as a result of accidents that occur on the premises of a roller-skating rink,” the bill contends.

Thus, “occurrences resulting in liability to owners should be more predictable by limiting the liability that may be incurred by the owners and encouraging the development and implementation of risk reduction techniques.”

Owners would bear the responsibility of posting at least three signs prominently that inform skaters and patrons of their risks, as well as having at least one manager on hand for every 200 customers. They are also charged with keeping the skating surface in a “reasonably safe” condition.

Skaters are responsible for maintaining “reasonable control” of speed and direction, meanwhile, as well as “proper awareness” of potential hazards that include other skaters and inanimate objects.

While risk is largely shifted to skaters, the legislation exempts “gross negligence by the operator or his or her employees” from liability limitations.

The bill does not yet have a Senate companion.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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