The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that thousands of people are injured on amusement park rides every year. In 2006, a combined 15,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to amusement park rides, inflatable amusement park rides, and water slides. Half of these were children. Victims of amusement park accidents can bring a negligence claim against the park and its employees, or a product liability claim against the manufacturer of a defective ride – or both.
SGP Law presents some of the worst amusement park accident cases and some of the more common ones to look out for while you are on your family vacation at an amusement park.
The Worst Amusement Park Accidents:
- A cable snapped in 2007 and severed a 13-year old girl’s feet on the Superman: Tower of Power ride at Six Flags over Kentucky
- A teenager was decapitated in 2008 by the Batman: The Ride rollercoaster after jumping the fence surrounding the ride to retrieve a hat at Six Flags over Georgia
- A woman drowned in 1999 on the Roaring Rapids water park ride in Six Flags over Texas when her boat flipped over and submerged her in 2-3 feet of water
- A gondola containing a couple at Six Flags Magic Mountain fell 50 feet to the ground in 1978, killing the man and injuring his wife. The man was reportedly rocking the car before it fell
- In 1981, an employee of Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey fell to his death during a test drive because he “may have assumed an unauthorized riding position that did not make use of the safety feature of the restraining devices”
The most common injuries as a result of a theme park accident include:
- Head, neck, and back injuries from rough rides
- Injury or death from falling from or being thrown from a ride
- Stroke from trauma to ligaments in the neck
- Lacerations, torn ligaments, and broken bones
- Brain aneurysms from fast rides
- Brain injuries from G-forces and other stresses imposed on the head by rapid speeds or from flying projectiles
- Drowning on water rides
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are many different contributors to amusement park injuries, including:
- Mechanical failures, such as detachment of safety restraints mid-ride or an important structural component breaking as a result of a manufacturing defect or negligence in maintaining the ride
- Improper operation, such as when an operator stops the ride abruptly or fails to follow safety protocols
- Passenger misuse, such as when a passenger stands up mid-ride or fails to follow safety instructions
- Injuries can also occur as a result of the inherent nature of the ride, such as whiplash from rough rides or cranial injuries from the ride’s speed
Those who have been injured on amusement park rides can either take legal action for negligence or product liability depending on the circumstances. If an amusement park accident was caused by the carelessness or inattention of the park or a specific park employee, then the most likely legal claim is for negligence. Structural or design defects on the ride itself may give rise to defective product liability claims against the manufacturer of the ride or the maker of the faulty part.
According to the CPSC, in order to avoid injuries, it is wise to take precautions when visiting an amusement park. You can find safety tips on the SaferParks website at saferparks.org.
If you have been injured in an amusement park accident, it is important to have someone who is well-versed in personal injury law on your side. Please call Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience for a free initial consultation today.