Maybe. A California court has ruled that the assumption of risk defense does not apply to rides at an amusement park. The guest will still need to prove her case; but the claim is not automatically barred as many would have expected.

In Nalwa v. Cedar Fair,LP.,  a guest who broke her wrist on a bumper car was allowed to proceed with her claim against Great America amusement park.  But isn’t an injury from getting bumped on a bumper car an inherent risk of the riding a bumper car? Perhaps, but the analysis goes further.

The Court explained that California laws require amusement parks to make their rides safe. If  parks can avoid responsibility by asserting theassumption of risk defense, the purpose of the laws would be frustrated. Also, the Court pointed out that sitting as a passenger on a bumper car is not a vigorous enough activity to be considered a “sport”. And, the court determined that an amusement park owner should be held to a higher level of responsibility for safety of its rides — not a lower or non-existent safety level.

The park guest assumes the risk of being frightened — expecting a thrill; not an injury.