Roller coasters and amusement parks are traditionally associated with summertime fun for children, adults, and families. Amusement parks market and advertise themselves as places to escape and enjoy the thrills of exhilarating roller coasters, twirling rides, and water park slides. Millions of people visit amusement parks and ride roller coasters without incidents, however each year thousands are injured during such visits. Tragically, some visitors never leave an amusement park or water park alive.
This article explains the various hazards and types of injuries that may occur on roller coasters and other amusement park rides, with a summary of your legal rights. See FindLaw's Torts and Personal Injuries section for additional articles and resources.
Types of Roller Coaster Accidents and Amusement Parks Injuries
Amusement park injuries can result from roller coasters accidents, riders being stuck on rides like Ferris wheels, and swinging and spinning rides that somehow malfunction. In addition, people can be injured on water rides, water slides, in wave pools, and 'lazy river' rides using inflatable devices.
One study for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that in the six year period from 1997 to 2003, an estimated 2,800 to 4,300 non-occupational emergency-room-treated injuries occurred on mobile amusement rides, defined as rides that are part of a traveling carnival, rented for an event, or used at a mobile amusement park, but not part of fixed location like Walt Disney World or Six Flags.
The CPSC also reported 55 deaths associated with both fixed-site and mobile amusement rides from 1987 to 2001.
Serious injuries associated with amusement parks can include deadly falls; carotid artery dissection and stroke (tears to the major artery in the neck); traumatic brain injury;
brain aneurysms; paralysis; drowning; inflatable ride injuries; lacerations, broken bones and torn ligaments; and emotional injuries.
Roller Coaster Accident Dangers and Amusement Park Risks
Like any business, amusement parks have the potential to operate defective equipment. Doors, lap bars, and shoulder harnesses restraining riders can malfunction. See Defects in Manufacturing and Defects and Design for more information.
Employees operating amusement park rides and working at water parks can also fail to perform routine safety checks, become distracted from performing their assigned job duties, fail to safely operate a ride, properly supervise colleagues responsible for ride safety, or fail to use a reasonable standard of care that should be used on the job.
Head, neck, and back injuries are reportedly the most commonly reported amusement park injuries. Amusement park goers can also suffer serious go-kart and bumper-car injuries involving crashes with other riders.
Water parks and amusement parks with water rides also increase risks for water slide injuries, wave. pool drowning deaths, and 'lazy river' injuries experienced by riders traveling on inner tubes or other inflatable devices.
Some states like Florida do not require theme parks to report injuries unless they involve fatalities, or an injured rider is immediately hospitalized for at least 24 hours for more than just observation by medical personnel.
Medical Treatment and Roller Coaster Accidents and Amusement Park Injuries
Long-term treatment and physical therapy for amusement park ride and water park injury victims may be an important part of any recovery. Dealing with radical life changes, including new limitations on mobility, brain injury, paralysis, limb amputation, scarring or disfigurement may also be part of any recovery for amusement park ride and water park injury victims.
Physical injury is only one aspect of amusement park-related trauma. The mental traumas that ride victims can experience may be just as great, if not greater, than any physical harm they suffer. Such trauma or disability may requirement extended, even lifelong treatment.
Roller Coaster Accidents, Amusement Park Injuries and Water Park Dangers: Your Legal Rights
While some states regulate amusement parks rides, there is still no federal law on amusement park safety. If you or a loved one were injured at an amusement park, carnival ride, or water park, you may be entitled to compensation for current and future expenses, as well as special legal damages, also known as punitive damages.
Some of the legal factors that an attorney can review with you include:
See FindLaw's Damage Estimate Worksheet to calculate the damages for your injuries.
Were You Injured on a Roller Coaster? An Injury Attorney Can Help
If you've been injured at an amusement park -- whether it's on a rollercoaster, water slide, or something else -- you should consider your legal options. These types of cases can be complicated, particularly when you consider all of the parties involved and questions over whether the plaintiff followed the rules. Don't delay; contact an experienced injury attorney today.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.