Accidents in roller skating rinks can cause serious personal injuries. Under New Jersey state law, roller skaters and other patrons injured at roller skating rinks may be able to sue the owner or operator of the rink and be compensated for the injuries they sustained. See N.J.S.A. § 5:14-1 et seq. The ability to file a lawsuit against the roller skating rink depends on whether the roller skater and the owner or operator abide by certain rules set forth in New Jersey's Roller Skating Rink Safety and Fair Liability Act. See id.
Pursuant to the Roller Skating Rink Safety and Fair Liability Act, owners and operators of roller skating rinks must:
- Warn: Rinks must post signs listing the duties of both roller skaters and the owners in at least three conspicuous locations in the rink. These signs must be easy to see and read.
- Supervise: Rinks must have at least one floor guard on duty for every 200 skaters. The guards must be adequately trained and must enforce the rink's rules.
- Maintain: The skating surface must be kept in reasonably safe condition and must be cleaned before each session. Railings, kickboards and walls around the skating surface must be kept in good condition, too.
- Inspect: Owners or operators must inspect the skating surface before each session. They must also inspect emergency lights periodically and rental skates regularly to insure that the skates are in good condition.
Additionally, owners and operators must: 1) Keep lights on in exit and service areas when the skating surface lights are turned off during special numbers, 2) Provide reasonable security in parking areas, 3) Prohibit the sale or use of alcoholic beverages on the premises, and 4) Abide by all other requirements of the Roller Skating Rink Safety and Fair Liability Act and other state and federal laws and regulations.
Often, in order to sue a roller skating rink for injuries sustained while roller skating, the skaters must show that they conducted themselves in a reasonable manner and that they abide by certain rules, as well. For example, roller skaters must:
- Skate at a speed and in directions that are reasonable.
- Know the range of their ability and skate within their own limits.
- Follow all of the rink's posted signs and warnings.
- Try to avoid other roller skaters and objects.
- Refrain from conduct that may cause or contribute to the injury of anyone, including themselves.
Who Can Sue?
The Roller Skating Rink Safety and Fair Liability Act was enacted, in part, to delineate who could sue roller skating rinks and under what circumstances. For example, when someone voluntarily skates at a roller skating rink, they assume the inherent risks of roller skating that are obvious and necessary. Examples of inherent risks include incidental contact with other skaters or spectators, falls caused by loss of balance, and contact with objects properly located within the roller skater's intended path. Incidental contact is contact that is likely to happen or naturally occurs while roller skating. Oftentimes, when people suffer injuries from these inherent risks, state law prevents them from filing a lawsuit against the rink owner.
Roller Skating Lessons
Many roller skating rinks offer skating lessons to customers. If you are injured during or shortly after taking such a lesson, you may have a claim against the roller skating rink owner for negligence. These types of cases are especially likely if you have never skated before and the rink fails to properly instruct you.
Another Skater's Reckless Behavior
Even if your injury is caused by another skater's reckless behavior, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the rink owner or operator. In these cases, a jury would decided whether the other skater's conduct was "incidental to skating" or whether the owner should be held accountable for failing to stop a skater's reckless behavior. This is not always an easy determination to make. Therefore, if you have been injured by another skater at a roller skating rink or because of another skater's behavior, it is important to contact an attorney to help you determine what your rights are and how to be fairly compensated for your injuries.
The Roller Skating Rink's Failure to Abide by State Law Requirements
Finally, if you are injured at a rink because the owner or operator of a roller skating rink failed to abide by its requirements under state law, then you may be able to sue the owner or operator for your injuries. Depending upon the unique circumstances of your case, it may not matter whether your injury was partially caused by the inherent risks of skating, some of which are discussed above. Because these types of cases often involve complex legal issues, it is best to contact an attorney to help you determine what your rights are and how best to protect them.
The attorneys at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Mitterhoff, Grabas & Woodruff, have over 25 years of experience with roller skating rink accident claims and know how to get the compensation you deserve. Please contact us if you or a family member is a victim of a roller skating rink accident.
New Jersey's Roller Skating Rink Safety and Fair Liability Act, N.J.S.A. § 5:14-1
Calhanas v. South Amboy Roller Rink, 292 N.J. Super. 513 (App. Div. 1996).
Derricote v. United Skates of America, 350 N.J. Super. 227, 234 (App. Div. 2002).