Amusement parks have been one of the most popular family and tourist attractions for decades. Every year, countless patrons brave the large crowds and long lines in order to feel a momentary shot of adrenaline on a high-flying roller coaster or fast-paced waterslide. Ironically enough, the reason why our hearts beat so fast during these rides is because of the constant feeling of danger; the high speeds and sharp turns make it feel like we’re “on the edge” of disaster before returning safely.
However, it is all too common for riders to go up and over disaster’s edge, due to the negligence of the ride owner or the defectiveness of the equipment. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were over 43,000 injuries caused by amusement attractions in 2017 alone– the largest percentage of these injuries came from riders between the ages of 5 and 14.
A large number of injuries go unreported, as riders are unaware of their rights. That is why it is of vital importance to always seek the help of an experienced premises liability or defective product lawyer if and when an accident occurs.
Common Accident Causes
Based off of CPSC reports, the most common causes for amusement ride accidents can include:
- Unsafe or untrained ride operators: Inadequate safety personnel may prematurely start or stop the ride, or fail to properly fasten riders into their seats.
- Mechanical defects of the ride: If someone is injured because of a mechanical failure, the liability can fall on either the manufacturer or the owner for neglecting routine maintenance.
- Nature of the ride itself: Occasionally, the design of the ride itself can cause injury, separate from any human or mechanical error. Think of flashing lights that may cause seizures or extremely fast spinning rides that may trigger loss of consciousness or nausea.
- Rider error: Naturally, not all injuries are the fault of ride operators and park owners. There are a number of accidents caused by riders acting irresponsibly or neglecting proper safety procedures.
The injuries sustained in amusement ride accidents can range from mild to fatal. Some of the most common ailments are as follows:
- Scrapes, burns, or bruises from mild bumps or drags
- Broken bones and soft tissue damage from more severe bumps
- Head, neck, or back tweaks from sharp spins or turns
- Stroke or seizure from neck pressure or bright light
- Brain injury or aneurysm from high-speed rides
- Drowning or near-drowning at a water attraction
- Death from falling
It is important to note that a percentage of injuries go unreported each year either because riders leave the park without bringing the incident to anyone’s attention for fear of being punished, or because injuries develop after the incident has passed (head and neck tweaks or back pain).
Legal Regulations and Possible Claims
With regards to amusement rides, the government has different criteria depending on whether the ride is categorized as mobile or fixed-site. As the names would suggest, fixed rides are permanent and do not move, while mobile rides are the smaller-scale, trailer-pulled attractions of state fairs, rodeos, etc.
The CPSC only provides regulations for mobile rides— they have no authority when it comes to fixed rides. This exception is known as the “Roller Coaster Loophole.” So far, there are 28 states that have passed their own legislation governing the maintenance and inspection of fixed rides, while the remaining states utilize third-party safety inspectors and insurance companies to ensure safety and compliance.
For most accidents, the simplest claim to make is that of negligence on behalf of the park or ride operator (which is more or less the same thing as the park is responsible for the employee’s actions). In any negligence claim, the elements are basically the same: the defendant owed the plaintiff a reasonable duty of care, the defendant acted negligently, and therefore the plaintiff was injured as a result. In an amusement ride accident, the rider is a paying customer, so the park owner has a responsibility to keep them safe on rides; if an accident is caused by operators, the park is considered negligent, and any injuries sustained by the rider can be attributed to park owners.
In the case of a mechanical failure, victims may also be eligible for a product liability claim. These cases boil down to the plaintiff’s ability to prove that a piece of equipment was not functioning properly and therefore was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. For amusement ride cases, this is typically some kind of lap bar or personal safety restraint.
Contact Amusement Park Injury Attorneys
When you’ve been injured as a result of an amusement park accident, the trusted Las Vegas amusement park injury attorneys at Van Law Firm are the best choice to recover any compensation you may be eligible for, including medical reimbursement, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Call (702) 529-1011 today to see what your case may be worth with a confidential, no-cost consultation. We’re standing by to help around the clock, and with hundreds of 5-star reviews, our service is second to none.