Although amusement park rides can be thrilling, accidents happen. Water slides, bumper cars, roller coasters, tilt-a-whirls, and other amusement park rides are responsible for thousands of injuries each year. Some amusement park accidents have also resulted in death.
Victims of amusement park injuries, or family members of loved ones lost, can file a negligence or product liability claim against those responsible. The park itself, park employees, and manufacturers of a defective ride can all be held liable for their actions.
An amusement park injury lawyer can help assess your claim and guide you through the legal processes. Although amusement parks will likely fight back with certain defenses, a qualified lawyer can help compensate you for any harm, injury, or loss you suffered.
What To Know About Amusement Park Accidents
Younger people under the age of 24 are most likely to suffer an amusement park injury. It’s estimated that over 4,300 people are injured on an amusement park ride each year. The injuries occur at fairs, festivals, carnivals, amusement parks, and theme parks.
Although safety inspections are a standard practice for rides at amusement parks, accidents continue to occur. While accidents are somewhat rare, they can cause catastrophic injuries and death.
Types Of Amusement Park Injuries
Almost any sort of injury can occur from an amusement park ride. With countless rides available, injuries are wide-ranging.
Some common amusement park injuries include:
- brain aneurysms
- back and spinal cord injuries
- traumatic brain/head injuries
- stroke caused by an artery tear in the neck
- torn ligaments and broken bones
- deadly falls and drownings
- emotional injuries like PTSD
Common Causes Of Amusement Park Injuries
With safety standards and routine inspections, most amusement park rides are safe. However, a lot of structural engineering goes into these rides, and all parts must be stable and functional.
Consider some common causes of amusement park accidents:
Mechanical failures can arise from poor maintenance, but can also simply occur over time. Cables can snap, restraints can fail, and rides can suddenly stop because of some mechanical failure. Many of these rides are in operation for over 12 hours a day, so wear and tear is likely.
An operator sets and manages the controls for many amusement park rides. These accidents tend to happen most in traveling carnivals or fairs. The operator could be on drugs or alcohol, fall asleep, get distracted, or make some other egregious mistake.
Since fixed location amusement parks are big business (Disney World), they often have standards in place to qualify employees for operation.
A passenger on an amusement park ride must follow all the instructions and guidelines imposed by staff operating the ride. Ignoring these precautions or instructions can result in severe injury. For example, a passenger could stand up, unlatch bars or safety restraints, or not sit the right way in a seat.
A Defective Or Poorly Designed Ride
It can take numerous rides before a defective or poor design becomes apparent. However, some park owners may take a risk and open rides to the public before the ride is tested for safety. If a ride has a design flaw or was poorly manufactured, the accident can be deadly.
General Slips And Falls
Other accidents can happen at amusement parks that don’t occur on the ride. There are often ramps, platforms, or stairs that visitors must take to access a ride. If these access points aren’t properly cleaned or are wet or filled with debris, slips, trips, and falls may occur.
Does The Government Regulate Amusement Park Rides?
Whether there is government oversight or regulation depends on the kind of amusement park. Amusement parks are considered as mobile or fixed sites. Fixed sites include theme parks like Disneyland or amusement parks like Cedar Point. Mobile parks are traveling fairs or carnivals.
Mobile amusement parks are regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a federal oversight agency. Fixed-location amusement parks, however, are only regulated by state and local governments. State and local regulations can vary widely.
The majority of U.S. states impose regulations for amusement park safety, but the following six states have no oversight for amusement parks:
Legal Claims In Amusement Park Injury Lawsuits
There are several legal claims you and your lawyer could file after an amusement park injury. The exact claim will depend on the nature of the accident, but two types of claims are routinely filed in these cases: negligence and product liability claims.
Amusement Park Injuries Caused By Negligence
All amusement parks, carnivals, and theme parks have a duty of care to protect visitors from harm. If an amusement park owner fails to protect a visitor from injury, then the owner is in legal violation and can be held liable for negligence.
Negligence can occur when someone at the amusement park, whether directly or indirectly, failed to act in a reasonable or responsible way. Because a visitor was injured as a result of a park’s negligence, the visitor, or in some cases the visitor’s family, may be able to sue the amusement park for damages or compensation.
Your lawyer must prove the amusement park was negligent and liable for your injuries by showing:
- an unsafe condition was the cause of your medically verifiable injuries
- the park was aware of the unsafe condition that caused your injuries
- the park did not repair, fix, or remove the safety hazard
- if it wasn’t for the unsafe condition, you never would have suffered injuries
Amusement Park Injuries Caused By Product Liability
A product liability claim could be filed on your behalf if you suffered injuries as the result of a ride’s manufacturing defect or flawed design. If there is an inherent design flaw to the ride, then a product liability claim holds the manufacturer liable for making a defective part or implementing a poor design.
For product liability claims, your lawyer must prove that some equipment in the ride or the structure itself was defective, and this defect caused your injury.
Amusement Park Injury Lawsuit Defenses
If an amusement park sees a personal injury lawsuit filed against them, there are several defenses they may use to avoid paying out damages. To make sure your case is able to handle the defense, it’s crucial to hire a trained and qualified personal injury lawyer.
Rider Was Non-Compliant With Safety Rules
The defense may argue that the passenger or rider failed to follow the rules of the ride. The rider or injured party may not have complied with height requirements, weight limits, or other safety rules that were clearly posted, labeled, or communicated.
Because the defense may argue that the rider shares the blame for the circumstances that led to the injury, the value of the claim could be reduced, or in some states, act as a complete bar to recovery.
Disclaimers On Amusement Park Tickets
The fine print on an amusement park ticket could include a disclaimer or waiver of liability. This means that by purchasing a ticket, the amusement park can argue it is free from being sued for negligence.
Although the defense may use the ticket as evidence of waiving liability, disclaimers are often not read, include vague language, and may be disputed in court by a skilled attorney.
Assumption Of Risk
The defense could argue that the person injured was aware of the dangers and risks that come along with amusement park rides. Because the injured party knew of the risks, they should not be able to receive compensation for their injuries.
Proving the plaintiff had “assumed the risk” depends on the state where the case is filed. Some states allow amusement parks to make an assumption of risk based on the ride, while other states disregard or limit the assumption of risk argument. A lawyer can help you prepare for this defense.
How You Can Help Prove Your Amusement Park Injury Claim
Like many personal injury claims, there are steps you can take after an amusement park accident to help prove your case. You’ll want to collect all the evidence you can that proves the amusement park was negligent or operated a ride with a defective design.
Report Your Injury
The first thing is to report any injuries at the scene. Ask for help and call 9-1-1 should any serious injuries occur. Fixed-location sites like Six Flags should have medical personnel onsite. To make sure your claim is considered, do not refuse any medical attention.
Witnesses can be a major factor in your personal injury claim. Independent witnesses, who can be strangers or close friends or family, who were at the park at the time of the accident could offer an unbiased perspective of events. Collect their contact information and conduct an interview to bolster the credibility of your case.
Take videos and pictures to collect all the evidence you can. Audio recordings can be effective as well, but be aware that in some states it is illegal to record someone without their permission. If you can identify the cause of your injury, take a picture. If you speak to park staff about what occurred, recording them could be a crucial piece of evidence for your claim.
Confirm Your Damages
If you eventually file a lawsuit, your lawyer will want to verify the damages you’re seeking. This can include documentation of medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries, including a note from your employer about lost wages.
Why You Should Hire An Amusement Park Injury Lawyer
Filing an amusement park injury claim is complicated. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal processes to hold the amusement park liable for their failure to protect you. Because the size and type of park matters for a claim, a lawyer can help you take the appropriate steps.
Holding traveling parks or carnivals liable can also be difficult because owners or management may be unreachable or not properly insured.
A lawyer can help you collect a fair settlement from whomever is responsible and make sure you’re compensated for your injuries.
Compensation For An Amusement Park Injury
If you choose to move forward with a lawsuit, a lawyer will structure your case so you can receive the maximum amount of damages available. If your injuries were the result of negligence, a lawyer will file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit if applicable.
In negligence cases, examples of damages you can receive include compensation for:
- medical expenses
- lost wages from losing the capacity to work
- general pain and suffering
- other out-of-pocket expenses related to your injury
Contact Florin|Roebig To File An Amusement Park Injury Claim
At Florin|Roebig, our team of qualified personal injury and product liability lawyers are well-suited to represent you in your case. As a multi-state law firm, our team has experience trying personal injury cases across the country, from Florida to Texas.
We offer a free case evaluation to help you decide if you should take legal action. Once you submit a case evaluation, we’ll assess the grounds for your case and see if moving forward with a lawsuit is in your best interest.
To get started with your free case evaluation, contact Florin|Roebig today.