Disneyland and Disney World, just like all other theme parks, inevitably have their share of injuries. When those injuries become fatal, does Disney get sued?
In the case of a death that occurred at or because of Disney, the family of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This lawsuit alleges that Disney’s negligence caused the death, and Disney can decide to settle or take it to trial.
Another consequence of fatal incidents at Disney is that the park can be fined by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). If OSHA determines that there was a safety violation, they can fine Disney an amount they deem appropriate.
According to a study by DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo, there have been 83 total deaths at both Disneyland and Disney World. Below is a chart showing the percentage of deaths that led to a lawsuit against Disney or an OSHA fine. There are also some lawsuits that are filed against a third party, such as a manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the ride equipment.
Percentage of Lawsuits Filed After a Death at Disney
As shown in the graph, the lawsuit status of all 83 fatal incidents is as follows:
- 65% of incidents had no lawsuit
- 14% of incidents had a lawsuit filed and Disney settled
- 6% of cases have an unknown lawsuit status
- 6% of incidents resulted in fines from OSHA
- 5% of incidents had a lawsuit filed against a third party
- 4% of incidents had a lawsuit that was unsuccessful (or the status is unknown)
How Much Money Has Disney Paid in Settlements?
Below is a table of all the known settlement payments and OSHA fines issued to Disney. Many lawsuits are settled for an undisclosed amount, so not all information is available. The year of the payment is also included for context.
The $25 million settlement shown on the table was one of very few incidents in which Disney was completely liable for the death. The investigation from OSHA found two major violations: a piece of equipment was replaced with a cheaper, less safe version, and the employee who was operating the ride was not properly trained. It’s mistakes like this that put Disney in hot water financially and legally.
Staying Safe at Disney
The reason that the majority of fatal incidents (65%) did not result in a lawsuit is simply because most Disney deaths are not the fault of the park. In fact, 38% of deaths that have occurred at Disney were due to natural causes, and 21% were suicides or murders.
Fatalities that are one hundred percent the fault of Disney are extremely rare, which should give some peace of mind to future park goers. Even when deaths have happened because of a ride, it’s often because the rider was not following protocol and staying in the vehicle. So on your next trip to Disney parks, make sure to follow all ride instructions for a safe and fun experience.