This summer has been an especially dangerous time for amusement park attendees. Numerous injury accidents and one fatality have led to increased scrutiny of the safety measures in place to prevent these incidents and the liability of amusement park owners and state regulators in ensuring the safety of guests at these popular attractions. A Summer Park Owners Would Rather Forget Along with the expected aches and pains, muscle strains and insect bites that go along with a day spent outdoors at a carnival, fair or amusement park, visitors have experienced far more serious threats to their well-being during this summer’s entertainments:
- Seven people were injured in July at the Cedar Point theme park in Sandusky, Ohio, when a boat in the Shoot the Rapids ride overturned during regular operation.
- At the Jackson County Fair in Central Point, Oregon, two children were struck by a piece of flying metal from the nearby Zipper ride; only one child was injured during the July 18, 2013, incident.
- Just one day later, on July 19, 2013, the Texas Giant roller coaster at the Six Flags over Texas amusement park in Arlington was the scene of a fatality accident involving a 52-year-old woman. The woman came free of the restraining bar and was thrown from the ride during operations. She struck a metal structural beam during her descent of 75 feet and was pronounced dead at the scene after medical rescue workers arrived.
- On July 30, 2013, a woman fell from a Zipper ride at the Montana State Fair while exiting it. She sustained a head injury after her fall of approximately ten feet.
- A Zumur swing ride at a community carnival in Norwalk, Connecticut, injured 13 people on September 8, 2013, when it suddenly stopped functioning properly and allowed swings to collide with each other and with the central hub of the Zumur ride. One adult and 12 children were treated at local health care facilities for non-life-threatening injuries.
- The most recent incident occurred at the North Carolina State Fair on October 24, 2013, when the Vortex carnival ride started up again unexpectedly while riders were exiting the attraction. This accident resulted in five injuries and led to the closure of the Vortex as police and investigators probe into the cause of the accident.
Amusement park accidents are not just hazardous to guests of these entertainment facilities; statistics indicate that 28 percent of all fatalities in the amusement park industry were the result of work-related incidents that took the lives of carnival, fair or amusement park employees. Roller coasters were involved in the largest number of fatal accidents, but Ferris wheels, suspended cable attractions, water rides and spinning rides were also implicated in a significant percentage of cases. Holding Amusement Park Owners Responsible In most cases, responsibility for these accidents rests with the owners of the equipment. More often than not, these incidents are attributed to a failure on the owners’ part to maintain rides properly or to install adequate safety measures to protect riders. In Texas, no state or federal regulations allow for oversight of fixed-place amusement park attractions like the Texas Giant; as a result, there is no legal mechanism other than civil lawsuits for holding owners responsible for failure to maintain their rides or to protect their riders properly. In cases of wrongful death, surviving family members can often obtain significant financial settlements by pursuing legal action against the amusement park owners responsible for their losses. Enlisting the help of a professional personal injury attorney can also help injury victims recoup their medical bills and receive compensation for their pain and suffering due to accidents that occurred on an amusement park ride. Work injury lawyers can also provide help for employees of the entertainment facility in obtaining a reasonable settlement for injuries that took place on the job. By working with these legal experts, families and injured individuals can ensure that they receive maximum compensation for their pain, suffering and personal losses.