The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS — Fourteen-year-old Tyre Sampson of St. Louis died after falling off a drop tower ride at a Florida amusement park a few weeks ago.

When tragic incidents like this happen, are the owners liable?  Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen answers this question and more in this week’s Legal Lens with FOX 2’s Vic Faust.

“Like most amusement parks, it will depend on if the condition that caused the death was an inherent risk,” said McNairy. “When you pay for admission, you reconsidered an amusement park invitee. That means park owners have to use a reasonable degree of care to protect their customers from dangerous conditions that the park would be aware of — but the guest would not.”

“So, if the park is aware that something is dangerous, and a guest may not reasonably notice it, then the park can be liable,” she added.

So, what is an inherent risk?

“The courts call it something that is structural in nature to the activity or essentially a character to the activity being done,” said McNairy. “For example, if you go to a baseball game and you’re sitting in the outfield, balls may come, then that would be an inherent risk of watching the game. But behind the home plate, a fan would expect nets to be up to protect guests from pop-flies. So that would not be an inherently dangerous activity if sitting behind home plate.”

Where do waivers come into play?

“Almost everything we do now you are required to sign a waiver,” said McNairy. “In Missouri, waivers are enforceable. But what courts look at is: Are you waiving something you know you’re waiving? So are the rights you are giving away clearly defined, clearly marked on a waiver, and essentially to an activity. For example, if going skiing and your foot gets lodged in a slope that would be covered by the waiver.”