Scary amusement parks are the backbone of American entertainment – the higher the roller coasters, the better the experience. As thrilling as amusement parks may be, there is always the slight chance that things can go wrong. Most theme park rides carry on without a hitch, but accidents are common in the setting for a reason – rides are mere contraptions, and can quickly fall apart with frequent use.
Unfortunately, injuries can be devastating, most of the time ending in serious and fatal conditions. An individual injured in an amusement park accident can file for a personal injury claim. The personal injury lawsuit can include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, as well as other items deemed necessary.
Should death occur, the family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim. Here, damages will be paid for, including loss of supporting income and funeral expenses.
It’s also worth noting that amusement park accidents also encompass a variety of other injuries, and the company behind the park, along with the employees, can be held liable for all damages.
If you’re a victim of an amusement park accident or simply wish to learn more, here is a comprehensive guide to follow:
Table of Contents
Looking At The Bigger Picture: Are amusement park accidents common?
In amusement parks, it’s all fun and games until someone gets injured. Amusement park accidents are quite common, but typically only injuries that require immediate medical attention are reported. In fact, in 2006 alone, over 8,000 people sustained some form of injury from roller coasters and other amusement park accidents.
In addition to those accidents, there have been a few well-documented fatalities that happened in amusement parks. Some rides may malfunction due to poor engineering, electrical problems, or missed repairs, while others may lack safety protocols. These circumstances may be rare, but they’re possible and typically well-publicized.
Digging Deep: What are the dangers of riding amusement park rides?
Customers often go to amusement park rides because of the adrenaline-pumping thrill they experience after riding attractions like roller coasters and water slides. A lot of these amusement park attractions offer the thrill factor due to their speed, heights, and surprisingly sharp turns. However, a huge part of the thrill comes with the dangers associated with these rides. If something goes wrong, the results could be quite horrific.
Many things could go wrong with amusement parks. The structures of the attractions may pose great risks, and poor maintenance will only add to the dangers. They may not be properly designed or tested and can cause injuries to patrons. The ride operators and other amusement park employees may also cause accidents and injuries because of negligence, such as failure to secure certain safety equipment.
Although roller coasters and other rides are generally deemed safe, there is a wide range of injuries that can occur. They can be either minor or fatal, which can include the following instances:
- Broken bones
- Torn ligaments
- Whiplash injuries (Neck, head, and back)
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Stroke and heart problems
- Slip and fall accidents
- Food poisoning (Spoiled amusement park foods)
- Accidents from faulty stairs and ramps
- Blunt force trauma
- Injuries from faulty bathrooms
Understanding How Things Go Wrong: Why do amusement park accidents happen?
Any amusement park must have stable and functioning machinery, structures, and equipment to properly ensure the safety of its customers. In some situations, however, things can go wrong because of a host of different factors. Sometimes, accidents could happen because of faulty equipment, other attractions have a generally poor design, and others could be caused by employee negligence or oversight. Amusement park injuries generally could happen because of the following factors:
- Failure to maintain a strong and stable structure: This could be caused by rust or poor general maintenance of a structure.
- Employee oversight: Amusement park ride operators or other employees may have overlooked certain safety procedures.
- Poor design: Some amusement park rides may be inherently unsafe because of their design, despite safety measures.
- Mechanical and electrical issues: Some rides may malfunction due to certain issues regarding the equipment.
- Collisions and ejections: Some customers may fall out of the rides or may collide with other structures or customers.
- Customer error: The customer may have failed to follow safety procedures or may have ignored warning signs.
Golden tip: Some amusement park attractions like water slides, horror houses, and inflatables typically are more dangerous because they don’t have specific restraints and safety equipment. Amusement park owners and operators must always disclose the risks involved in these types of attractions.
Who To Point: Who is liable for amusement park accidents?
Determining who’s liable for the amusement park injuries relies heavily on the facts of the accident. In some cases, an accident could be caused by an employee failing to follow the safety procedures, such as failing to tighten safety belts or harnesses. This liability falls under the employer.
Other times, however, the manufacturers of the machinery could be liable because they may not have built the machinery properly. The liability could also then fall under whoever is in charge of inspecting and maintaining the machinery or equipment. In any case, investigators will always have to look into the matter because knowing what happened is crucial in determining who’s responsible for the amusement park injury.
Compensation and Claims: How to properly pursue compensation after an amusement park accident
Accidents can happen due to a variety of reasons, but more often than not, failure to perform inspections on rides is the main culprit. Unable to properly assess machines can lead to dangerous conditions, such as breaking down in the middle of use. As a result, people on the ride fall victim to injuries, sometimes succumbing to fatal conditions.
The owner of the amusement park, along with the operator, can be found negligent regarding the incident. They have failed to properly inspect the contraption before use, thereby making them negligent. As the people responsible for operations, they are required to know about any dangerous conditions and are expected to stop operations to ensure customer safety.
If you’re someone who wishes to pursue compensation after an amusement park accident, you must first establish negligence. You can do this by tracking the records of permits, as inspections are expected to be done every year. For those rides with known damages, they must first be inspected before use. Such rules encompass the following rides:
- Roller coasters
- Ski lifts
- Bounce houses
- Go-kart tracks
- Haunted houses
- Mechanical bulls
Should an amusement park be found guilty of operating without proper inspections and appropriate permits, they will be subjected to criminal misdemeanour charges, on top of negligence. If you are successful, you’ll be able to recover economic damages, which include pain and suffering, disability, medical costs, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and of course, lost income.
You’ll also have access to non-economic damages on top of everything else, so make sure to work with an experienced lawyer to gain the justice you deserve. Keep in mind that the law can be difficult to decipher, especially since the state of Florida offers specific doctrines and regulations on negligence. You need to strategize and plan carefully, as the other party will likely try to retaliate. They can quickly turn the fault to you, especially since it can be easy to build an argument indicating that the accident was partly your fault.
A Quick Guide: What to do after an accident
Proving negligence can be a difficult task, especially if you wish to hold the amusement park or manufacturer liable for your injuries. To do this properly, however, you must first report the incident as soon as you can. Carrying on your day after being thrown against a barrier, or hurting your neck after a sudden stop will leave you susceptible to potentially dangerous consequences.
A cut on your arm can easily end up infected, or the pain in your neck may indicate a damaged nerve. In other words, assuming that the pain will stop or the wounds will heal can be dangerous. The moment you sustain an injury as a result of poor park maintenance, follow the steps discussed below:
- Step 1: Report the problem to the park manager or ride operator once the ride stops. Make sure to take photos of your injuries, as well as the damaged or defective parts of the ride.
- Step 2: Gather eyewitnesses, especially those that can help support and validate the incident. Make sure that you document their statements through video or audio, as this will come in handy should there be an investigation.
- Step 3: Seek medical care, which is usually offered by park nurses and clinics. Should you feel unwell, ask someone to call 911 for immediate medical assistance.
- Step 4: After medical care, make sure to gather medical reports, which should include the details of your recovery time. You also need to gather all your medical bills, as well as records of time and wages missed at work.
- Step 5: If you’re ready to file for a personal injury case, contact an experienced Florida lawyer immediately.
Golden tip: Seeing as you’ll be working against an amusement park or manufacturer, understand that they will likely attempt to lure you into a settlement. Should a legal counsel or insurance company representative attempt to contact you, direct them to speak with your lawyer immediately. These settlements are usually small, and more often than not, cannot cover the expenses you’ve incurred as a result of the injury. You need to be given the money you’re entitled to, so make sure to play your cards correctly.
Dealing With Compensation Barriers: The presence of a liability waiver or warning signs
Amusement parks will typically display possible risks of certain amusement park rides and attractions. In addition to these warnings, the amusement parks may also ask you to sign a waiver of liability. Although this provides them with a safety net when it comes to liability, this does not take all the liability off of their shoulders. In some cases, warning signs do not give all the information and risks associated with the particular attraction and therefore do not guarantee the safety of the customers.
If the investigation shows that the design of an amusement park attraction or the actions of a particular employee is to blame for the amusement park injury, the waivers will not hold up in court. It’s important to know your rights and what you can do in these cases, so it’s best to seek immediate legal advice from reliable professionals.
Working With Florida’s Best Personal Injury Lawyers
Amusement parks are places of fun and entertainment, and people gather in these parks all year round to unwind and bond with friends and family. Given the constant high traffic, however, most rides are not maintained well, and while other areas become neglected. An amusement park may seem safe in hindsight, especially with staff and medics readily available. Although property owners are required to keep their parks safe, they fail to comply with regulations and end up offering defective rides and equally unsafe premises for visitors.
Should you fall victim to amusement park accidents, remember to keep clear documentation of all your injuries. This should also include all the incurred expenses, including wages lost and medical costs. You’ll also want to establish a strategy that will prove the other party’s negligence, so make sure to seek the help of an experienced lawyer for the best results.
Winning a course against owners and manufacturers can be difficult, especially since they’re desperate to avoid negative publicity. They will try to entice you with a settlement, but a good lawyer will help you gather enough evidence and form a solid strategy to help you win. With their solid knowledge and skill of applying strategies, you’ll be able to enjoy the compensation you deserve.
If you find yourself hurt at an amusement park, the personal injury lawyers of Shiner Law Group are ready to help. Allow us to help you pursue the compensation you deserve, and we’ll thoroughly investigate the details of the incident and emphasize your legal rights. We specialize in representing the injured and other victims, and we’ll actively help you find peace. Book a consultation with us today.