Amusement Park Accident Injuries
Millions of people each year visit amusement parks such as Disneyland, Six Flags, and Universal Studios to go on amusement rides and attractions. Many of these are “thrill rides” that travel at a high rate of speed and make sudden turns or changes in elevation, abrupt starts and starts, and other jolting maneuvers.
In addition to permanent amusement parks, millions of people visit annual county fairs that with traveling Midways equipped with dozens of amusement rides. There are also the church, community and school carnivals, and private birthday parties where people rent inflatable slides and bounce houses for youngsters to frolic in. Some people participate in bungee jumping to experience the freedom of a free fall and rebound when they reach the elastic cord’s end.
Unfortunately, a considerable number of people are seriously injured or killed by amusement or recreational rides that malfunction. These malfunctions occur because of faulty operation, maintenance, design, or construction. Some happen because of either the lack of posted warnings regarding the age, height, weight, and medical condition of the prospective rider, or because the rider or ride operator chooses to ignore them.
Injuries may range from cuts and bruises to the loss of limbs. In some cases, the injured rider may suffer broken bones ranging from a broken arm or leg to a broken back that leaves the rider paralyzed from the neck down (“quadriplegic”) or in their lower body (paraplegic). Some amusement ride riders are thrown from their car because of a defective safety bar or seat belt, or the car itself may detach from the ride because of worn or missing bolts, causing severe injury to the rider. In some cases, the rider is killed because of a defective ride or the negligence of the owner or operator.
Complex Laws Governing Amusement Park Accident Injuries
The laws governing amusement rides are complex and require the expertise of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Legal responsibility (“liability”) can depend upon such things as whether:
- the ride was part of a permanent amusement park, such as Disneyland;
- a traveling Midway at a county fair or local carnival;
- inflatables or other rentals at a private birthday party;
- whether the ride carried persons around a course (such as a roller coaster or thrill ride) or was stationary (such as a bounce house or rock-climbing wall).
Assumption of Risk Doctrine
The “assumption of risk” doctrine applies when you voluntarily participate in activities that may be hazardous or known to cause injuries. When you go skateboarding, you assume the risk that you might fall and get hurt. When you go to watch a baseball game, you assume the risk that a foul ball might hit you.
Courts have ruled that the doctrine of assumption of risk applies to some injuries sustained by amusement park visitors. For instance, the California Supreme Court said, “A small degree of risk inevitably accompanies the thrill of speeding through curves and loops, defying gravity or, in bumper cars, engaging in the mock violence of low-speed collisions.” By participating in amusement park attractions, you voluntarily take on some minor, inherent risk, such as breaking your wrist if you brace yourself against a bumper car collision.
However, just because you assume some minor risk doesn’t mean that amusement parks are absolved from all liability if you were injured.
Defective rides, inadequately trained workers and insufficient safety instructions may give rise to a claim against an amusement park, a carnival operator, or the manufacturer of an attraction if you suffer an injury. Injured visitors to parks regularly make claims that are paid by these parties or their insurance companies.
Who Can Be Held Liable When a Water Park or Amusement Park Injury Happens?
In general, the owner and operator of these establishments can be held liable for an injury or death. The causes of liability can include:
This is the most common reason for an establishment to be liable. To prove negligence, a lawyer must show:
- The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff;
- The duty was breached;
- The breach led to an injury or death; and,
- The plaintiff suffered a loss.
Examples of negligence includes:
- Failure to warn
- Failure to maintain rides
- Failure to inspect rides
- Failure to properly train employees
One form of liability that is considered in amusement park injury cases, is known as respondeat superior. To invoke this doctrine, a lawyer for the plaintiff should show that the employee was acting within the scope of his or her job responsibilities, but was negligent.
Examples of respondeat superior include:
- Failure to provide instructions to the riders
- Failure to operate a ride properly
- Allowing someone too young or short to ride the ride
What to Do if You Have Been Injured in a Theme Park or Amusement Park Accident
If you have been injured on an amusement park ride, a traveling carnival ride, a private birthday party that rented defective rides and inflatables, bungee jumping, or other amusement or recreational activity, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. For instance, that dizziness or nausea you feel after a thrill ride may be symptomatic of a serious brain injury that requires immediate treatment.
If you have been injured or a loved one killed in an amusement park accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. This gives the lawyer the chance to see the accident scene and check out the ride before the owner/operator has the chance to make any modifications to it.
Call TorkLaw to find out if your amusement park injury deserves compensation.