The House has passed a bill shielding skating rink owners from liability actions, a move aiming to keep the industry upright.
The Senate already unanimously approved the “Roller Skating Rink Safety Act,” sponsored by Jacksonville Sen. Clay Yarborough. Rep. Susan Plasencia carried the House version. After being substituted for Yarborough’s bill, the the House also approved the legislation without a “no” vote.
The measure would shift liability burdens in many cases to skaters and patrons rather than management and ownership, with the goal of lowering insurance premiums for owners and operators of the roughly 41 rinks left in the Sunshine State.
What SB 1458 calls “allocation of risks and costs” bears a disproportionate impact on rink owners and operators, preventing the insuring of these operations from being “economically feasible” for carriers. This bill would shift the burden to the consumer, aligning it with similar statutory language covering activities such as skateboarding, inline skating, paintball, and freestyle, mountain and off-road bicycling.
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 be responsible for prominently posting at least three signs informing 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 — including other skaters and inanimate objects.
Florida would join Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas with legislation governing rink liability if this bill becomes law.