Thousands of Injuries Reported

Life-threatening injuries happen at all types of amusement parks and on a wide range of attractions. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated for one year, “emergency room departments saw 30,900 injuries associated with amusement attractions, including rides, for both mobile and fixed-site parks.” (2)

Generally, amusement parks are classified as fixed-site parks when rides are more or less permanent structure. This would include an amusement pier at the beach or a theme park, such as Disneyland. The rides at carnivals or fairs are mobile — they travel from place to place.

While the CPSC was referring to national statistics, accidents happen locally as well.

Local Amusement Park Incidents

According to news articles, New Jersey has shut down rides like The Xtreme, also called the Super Sizzler, after a 10-year-old girl was thrown to her death at a fair in Deerfield Township. (3)

One paper said the child “became at least the fifth rider to be thrown to death since 2000 from the Sizzler, a spinning carnival ride. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt, which some other states require.” (4)

Fox News reported accidents at Rye Playland in New York where, “two deadly incidents took place… . Two 7-year-old girls died; one after being thrown from a ride and the other incident occurred on a water ride.” (5)

Every year, there are media reports of serious injuries and deaths at amusement or theme parks. “Headlines like these make many people wonder about the safety of theme park thrill rides, including new roller coasters that seem to become taller, faster, and steeper with each passing year.” (6)

Such concerns are well-founded due to the potential severity of injuries involved. This can include death and long-term — if not permanent — impairment. Recovery from these injuries can involve continuing suffering and financial burdens.

If you or anyone you know has suffered an amusement park accident, contact us for a free case evaluation.

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Common Injuries

There are several injuries commonly suffered in amusement park accidents requiring medical attention.

The overall frequency of occurrence for various types of injuries are: (7)

  • Broken bones: 10%.
  • Legs: 17%.
  • Face: 18%.
  • Cuts: 20%.
  • Sprains and strains: 21%.
  • Arms: 24%.
  • Head and neck: 28%.
  • Soft tissue: 29%.

These injuries result in a wide range of outcomes.

Broken bones, cuts, and bruises — While these injuries may not seem serious, broken bones puncturing the skin (open fractures) can leave victims vulnerable to infections. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons describes these types of fractures as a “surgical emergency.” (8) Recovery from such an accident can be a long and expensive process.

DeathDeaths can result from falling or being thrown from a ride. A CPSC report noted amusement ride fatalities were “associated with roller coasters and ‘whirling’ rides.” (9)

Drowning — Drownings on water slides, lazy rivers, or other water-based rides have occurred. In 2002, “Water rides were the second most common cause of fatalities” at amusement parks. (10)

Head, neck, and back injuries — These injuries happen on rides due to the force of movement or spinning of the rides. For example, the sharp sudden movements of bumper cars and roller coasters can forcefully jerk your head and neck around.

One study found more than a quarter of amusement ride injuries suffered by children were to the neck and head. (11) The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) said, “injuries due to ride motion predominated across both ride and severity types.” (12)

Traumatic brain injury — The effects of various forces, including G-forces, on the heads and brains of passengers on amusement rides is the subject of current research. Conclusions from one study suggested, “These results indicate that head motion and brain deformation during roller coaster rides are highly sensitive to individual subjects.” (13)

In another study, neurological injuries reported in connection with roller coaster rides included: (14)

  • Internal carotid artery dissections.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage.
  • Subdural hematoma.
  • Carotid artery thrombosis with stroke.
  • Intraparenchymal hemorrhage.
  • Vertebral artery dissection.

Causes of Accidents

An important factor for undertaking legal action in amusement park accident cases is to understand the possible causes of such accidents.

Causes of amusement park accidents can include:

  • Improper maintenance.
  • Improper operation of rides.
  • Mechanical failure of rides.
  • Poor directions or instructions for passengers to follow.
  • Poor ride design; the design by nature causes injury.

Any of these can cause an accident with serious injuries or fatalities.

One example would be an accident on a Ferris wheel. A passenger falls out of one of the cars when it turns upside down. This could be due to any one or combination of reasons.

The passenger might not have been told to strap in by the operator. The operator might have neglected to wait until the passenger was strapped in before starting the ride. The ride might have started going too fast because it wasn’t tested and adjusted recently. A gear could have broken. The Ferris wheel could have been used on a night too cold for the parts to function properly.

Once the cause of an accident has been determined, these facts can help support your legal claim against the responsible parties.

If you or a loved one was injured in an amusement park accident, a lawsuit can help get the compensation you deserve.

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Legal Options

Obtaining the services of an experienced attorney helps you understand your legal options.

In amusement park accident cases, a lawsuit can be filed against the park or attraction owners or operators. Or it can be filed against the manufacturers of the ride or equipment involved in the incident. You can also sue a combination of these groups.

These lawsuits can be filed under the legal concepts of product liability or premises liability.

Product Liability

Under product liability the manufacturer has a responsibility to ensure its products are safe and in good working order. If there are defects in the ride or equipment, then the manufacturer can be held accountable.

The manufacturer can be held accountable for three types of defects: (15)

  • Design flaws: These are inherent, meaning they exist before the ride or equipment is even constructed.
  • Manufacturing defects: These occur during the making or assembling of the ride or equipment.
  • Marketing defects: These are in instructions and warnings provided to customers who go on the ride or use the equipment.

Product liability claims can also be based on negligence. Negligence means the manufacturer failed to act with “the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” (16)

In negligence cases, an important factor is the “foreseeable” likelihood the manufacturer’s actions would result in harm, the foreseeable severity of harm, and what precautions the manufacturer took to prevent or reduce the risk of harm. (17)

Premises Liability

Premises liability is the park’s responsibility to guarantee safety when crossing the areas of the park and make sure any dangerous areas are noted with signs, barriers, or both.

If the park owners do not adequately and properly maintain the rides or attractions in their park, they can be held responsible for any injuries. Likewise, the owners must see to it the park grounds are safe and maintained, and any repairs are done promptly and properly.

The owners of the amusement park owe a “duty of care” to customers, visitors, and guests. Duty of care is a legal principle of conduct saying the owners must act in “the same manner as a [any] reasonably prudent person in their position would.” (18)

If they somehow breach that duty, they may be held legally responsible for any resulting injuries or damage.

To make a determination, the court also considers if the owners took reasonable steps to ensure the safety of everyone on their property.

How W&L Helps Injured Clients

In New York, you have only 3 years to file a lawsuit for most personal injury cases. (19) So, it is important you file your lawsuit as soon as possible. And because these cases can be complex, the services of an experienced attorney can be most advantageous.

W&L attorneys investigate your accident, review your medical records, file a claim on your behalf, and help you make a demand and negotiate a settlement, or represent you in court.

Should your case go to trial, there is a discovery phase where your attorneys investigate the defendant’s claims. This investigation includes such actions as the deposition of witnesses, gathering of facts, and gathering evidence.

W&L can also help you deal with insurance companies, as they guide you through the complexities of the legal process.

Successful Cases

Our attorneys are dedicated professionals with a track record of success for our clients.

Some of our successes include: