Amusement Park Accident Lawyers
Amusement parks are places where dreams come true. Sometimes, that dream becomes a nightmare. When walking through the gates of a theme park with your family, you would never expect that you or a member of your family would leave with an injury—or worse, leave without their life. Unfortunately, some thrill-seeking guests have found that excitement can quickly turn into terror.
Amusement rides are some of the most intense and thrilling forms of recreation in the world, with over 385 million people partaking in the pastime each year. Rides become more extreme year after year; rollercoasters across the world now reach unbelievable speeds of over 120 miles per hour and drop towers scrape the sky at heights of over 450 feet.
These mechanical beasts leave little room for error. Comprised of thousands of both stationary and moving parts, amusement rides are extraordinarily complex structures that must work with perfect precision. At the extreme height and speed that rides achieve, even the smallest of oversights can be catastrophic.
In 2019 alone, 1,299 guests were injured on fixed-site amusement rides in North America—that is over a thousand guests who entered amusement parks with high hopes for the day only to leave in pain and fear. If you or a loved one has incurred damages after riding an amusement park ride, keep reading to find out how our personal injury lawyers can help.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Who Is Responsible for Injuries and Other Damages After an Amusement Park Accident?
- Amusement Park Accident Law
- Causes of Amusement Park Accidents
- Injuries from Theme Park Accidents
- What to Do After a Theme Park Accident
- Case Study: $750,000 for Client Injured on Water Ride
- Legal Help for Amusement Park Accident
Theme park accidents can be a whirlwind of confusion, pain, and fear. As you strap in, you expect to enjoy a few quick minutes of safe, thrilling fun. Those few minutes feel much longer after you realize that something isn’t right; in some cases, these moments are filled with excruciating pain and fear for your life.
In the aftermath of an amusement ride accident, it can be difficult to determine where things went wrong. Did an employee fail to operate the ride properly? Was a piece of the structure faulty? These are important questions—and an amusement park accident lawyer can help make sense of your situation. Here are some examples of who may be liable for damages after an accident:
Company liability (general negligence)
Even the safest of rides can become deadly when operated improperly. Amusement parks must be extremely thorough when it comes to the maintenance and operation of their attractions. Manufacturers can construct a ride that complies with the highest of safety standards, but a park’s failure to inspect and maintain an attraction could transform a safe attraction into a deadly one.
Companies can also be held liable if they fail to take safety precautions related to the operation of the ride. Failure to inform guests about the nature and risks of a ride, to train employees properly, or to inform guests about how to safely ride the attraction are all examples of negligence. Theme parks are also typically held liable for the actions of their employees. All these examples fall under the legal theory of negligence, meaning that amusement parks could be held liable if you were affected by or involved in scenarios such as these.
At the speed and height that amusement rides achieve, even the smallest of manufacturing errors can lead to tragedy. Those who design and assemble amusement rides don’t always take the extreme caution that is necessary to guarantee the safety of passengers. Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their product is entirely safe for use and must follow safety guidelines set in place by the ASTM F24 Committee. If you were involved in an accident in which components of the ride failed to perform as expected, the manufacturer could be at fault.
When you are at a theme park with your family and friends, you trust that the park is safe for you and your group to enjoy. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If the premises of an amusement park are not maintained properly, guests could be put in danger. This can include anything from slip and falls on unmarked wet floors to electrocution from exposed electrical wiring. An amusement park has a duty to ensure your safety – and could be held liable if they fail to fulfill that duty.
In some scenarios, a party other than the manufacturer or amusement park could be held liable. Parties at fault could include other passengers who failed to comply with safety cautions, putting you and others in harm’s way.
Theme parks are often large corporate entities that prepare for accidents with strong legal backing. These legal teams may attempt to argue that riders have what is called an “assumption of risk” when participating in potentially dangerous activities such as amusement rides. The strength of this argument varies by state and depends on contributory negligence state or a comparative negligence state. For instance, New Jersey is a contributory negligence state, which means that to recover damages, the victim would have to be less responsible for the accident than the company to be compensated.
New York’s comparative negligence law protects passengers even if they are up to 99% at fault for an accident. These technicalities can be confusing in the aftermath of an accident, but you are not alone. An experienced amusement park accident lawyer experienced in facing large companies can advise you on the law.
When you experience an attraction safely, it is easy to overlook the many steps that occur as you ride. The reality is that the operation of an attraction is a process that is repeated hundreds of times a day and contains countless variables that could potentially compromise the safety of the ride. Often, passengers do not notice any errors in this process until it is far too late, and they are strapped into a horrifying ride that they cannot escape.
Some common causes for amusement ride accidents include:
Those at the helm of an amusement ride work directly with guests to make sure that all riders are fit to ride, properly prepared, and safely secured before they operate the ride using a variety of controls. Operators should be fully trained in safety procedures. Most of the operators’ responsibility is to load attractions appropriately, guarantee that all passengers are safely secured, minimize any dangers such as flyaway possessions that could injure guests, and properly inform all riders about how to safely participate. These employees are often what stands between guests and danger, making this position critical for rider safety. Individual employees may perform the same process dozens of times per shift; sometimes, exhausted, or complacent employees can forget or overlook key details in their procedure. This can result in the injury or death of unsuspecting guests.
Mechanical failure is many riders’ worst fear when boarding on a ride. Mechanical failures such as safety restraints releasing mid-ride, ride cars detaching, malfunctioning brakes, and cables snapping are just a few examples of potential errors that can occur during a ride. These malfunctions can take what was supposed to be a fun memory and turn it into an unforgettable tragedy. Errors such as these have resulted in the decapitation, ejection, and crushing of riders – injuring or killing victims while traumatizing other passengers and onlookers. Manufacturer negligence could be at the root of these malfunctions if their design process or physical assembly of ride components did not meet safety standards. More commonly, amusement parks fail to maintain rides and allow inevitable wear and tear to run its course on their rides. The slow erosion of amusement ride mechanics poses a lethal risk to riders, who rightly trust that amusement parks are a safe place to have fun. Unfortunately, theme parks occasionally take advantage of this trust and put their guests in harm’s way.
It is crucial for participants at theme parks to listen carefully to instructions and warnings provided by theme parks before embarking on a ride. Some passengers mistakenly fail to be alert when presented with safety information while others blatantly defy the instructions they were given to protect the health and safety of all riders. Prohibited behavior such as standing up, placing arms and legs outside of ride cars, throwing objects outside of the ride vehicle, trespassing into restricted areas, or intentionally unfastening safety restraints pose a danger to both riders and bystanders. An act of defiance in the name of humor can leave parkgoers responsible for the injury or death of another person.
Amusement parks are supposed to provide just that: amusement. Unfortunately, visits to theme parks can give guests much more than they bargained for, such as severe injury or death. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) estimates that 186,376 injuries from amusement park rides were treated in emergency rooms in the past five years.
Some injuries that could be sustained as a result of an amusement ride accident are:
- Musculoskeletal injury
- Traumatic brain injury
- Full-body or partial paralysis
- Bone fractures
- Stroke from neck injury
- Severed limbs or extremities
- Post-traumatic stress
- Depression or anxiety
- Loss of quality of life and mobility
- Fatal injury
The list above, while tragic and shocking, is only the beginning of damages for victims of amusement park accidents and their families. The unexpected terror and shock that victims endure as they realize their fun day has turned sinister often results in irreconcilable trauma that severely degrades their quality of life.
Lost wages due to injury add cumbersome stress onto those injured, straining their relationships, and adding yet another element of uncertainty to their lives. Inability to contribute to and participate in daily life can be a psychological weight that few feel capable of bearing. The party at fault is responsible for compensating affected individuals. This compensation can provide security for your family, ensure that your medical bills are paid, and empower you to enjoy life again.
If you are involved in an accident at an amusement park, the first step is to observe your surroundings and be certain that danger has subsided before taking any further action. After you have ensured that all parties are out of harm’s way, immediately call emergency services.
In the moments following an unexpected accident, adrenaline can subdue feelings of pain and you may not realize that you are injured. Regardless of the severity of your pain, make sure that first responders show up to the scene and be sure to receive all medical care available to you. Here are some crucial steps to complete following medical attention:
- File a Police Report: Be certain to file a report with the police and give a thorough statement about your experience. Include as many details as possible. Make sure that all witnesses give thorough statements as well.
- Reach Out to an Amusement Park Accident Lawyer: An amusement park accident is a life-changing and tragic event. If you want to get your life back on track after a terrifying accident, our firm can assist you. Consult our amusement park personal injury attorneys about filing a personal injury lawsuit today by dialing 212-736-5300.
A 45-year-old Brooklyn resident was injured on a water slide with her children at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey after their raft bottomed out due to a lack of water at the end of the slide. Our client sustained knee and neck injuries which required surgery and her daughter endured a sprained neck.
The 621-foot slide, coined “Big Bambu”, claimed the mother and her young children as its latest victims in a string of injuries that month. Partner Jeffrey Block argued that the park knew that the slide posed a danger to guests as six previous guests had sustained injuries just shortly before. This argument won $750,000 for the mother and her family as compensation for the damages she incurred because of the accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that occurred at a theme park, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The amusement park accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have experience recovering compensation for victims of amusement park accidents and are ready to fight for you. Our office has recovered well over $1.5 billion in total compensation for accident victims; allow us to help you get your quality of life back.