Scary roller coasters are a treasured American past time, but part of the scare is knowing that despite the best of intentions, something could always go wrong. While most roller coaster rides go off without a hitch, accidents at amusement parks occur all the time and can be devastatingly serious and sometimes even fatal.
How Common Are Amusement Park Accidents?
Although it is usually only injuries that require emergency treatment that are tracked, hundreds of people each year are injured by roller coasters and other theme park accidents. One study showed that over 8,000 people were injured on amusement park rides in 2006 alone. In addition to injuries, there are often a handful of fatalities that occur in theme parks each year, which are usually well-publicized due to the horrific circumstances that happen when a roller coaster goes wrong.
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What Are the Dangers of Riding a Roller Coaster?
Roller coasters and other theme park rides can cause a wide variety of injuries that range from minor to fatal.
What Injuries are Most Common on Roller Coasters?
- Whiplash injuries including neck, back, and head
- Broken bones, lacerations, and torn ligaments
- Brain aneurysms and stroke
- Blunt force trauma
- Heart problems
- Traumatic brain injuries
- In addition to roller coaster accidents, theme parks can present other dangers including:
- Slip and fall accidents throughout the park
- Food poisoning
- Faulty stairs or ramps
- Premises liability such as fault bathrooms
- Intentional torts committed by employees or park attendees
Who Is Responsible for Making Sure Theme Parks are Safe?
Most people assume that there is some federal oversight of amusement parks but in reality, there really isn’t. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is responsible for inspecting mobile carnival ride accidents such as ferris wheels that are common in traveling fairs. However, for “fixed site” attractions, including most major roller coasters and theme parks, inspections are left to the state with each state handling this task differently.
In some states, there is no general oversight, leaving inspection and safety to private insurance companies and third parties. Other states make this the responsibility of towns or counties. A lawyer can help you determine whether there were any state or federal law violations that led to a particular amusement park accident.
Who Is Liable for Amusement Park Accidents?
The answer to this question will often involve a complex network of people and entities and will depend on the facts of each accident. Sometimes it is clear that a particular employee is at fault, for example, for failing to secure a lap belt. In that case, the employer could also be vicariously liable for the actions of the employee. However, that answer isn’t always so clear if for instance that employee claims the lap belt wasn’t working properly.
Then, the manufacturer of the lap belt or roller coaster could also be liable, as well as anyone who was in charge of inspecting and maintaining the lap belt. This example makes it clear that the question of who is liable for an amusement park accident will always take some investigation.
What if I Signed a Waiver or the Theme Park Says I Accepted the Risk?
Often theme park rides will display a notice of the inherent risk of an attraction, but this does not let operators and owners escape all liability. Even if you signed a release or saw a warning, that does not necessarily mean that the warning included all the information necessary to make a safe decision. In other situations when a park employee’s actions or the design of the ride is the reason for the accident, a warning or release of liability will not hold up because it was not intended for those types of situations. If you are in this situation, it is always a good idea to seek the advice of legal counsel to understand your rights.
Were You Injured in an Amusement Park Accident?
If you were injured at an amusement park, contact us for a free case evaluation. We work on a contingency-fee basis. You may be eligible to file a claim for medical costs, emotional distress and further damages. Fill out our free case evaluation form to see if you are eligible for a claim. An experienced theme park accident attorney at Morris Bart will assist you in the evaluation process. Initial consultations are free. Click here to see more about our office locations throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Call us at 1-800-537-8185 today.
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