Every year, 335 million people visit amusement parks in the U.S. Given this heavy traffic, you would think that the strictest of safety standards would be in place to keep ride goers safe. However, some states don’t even have safety regulations for amusement park rides.
Regulations or not, amusement park attraction owners, manufacturers, and operators have a responsibility to ensure their rides are reasonably safe and don’t harm patrons.
If you or a loved one were injured in an amusement park accident, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the attraction’s owners, operators, or manufacturers. Our attorneys represent victims of amusement park injuries, including some victims of the Daytona Beach Sand Blaster accident. Our team also helps those injured in car accidents and victims of medical malpractice, along with others who suffered in dozens of other practice areas because of the negligence of another.
Contact our lawyers today for a free, no-risk consultation.
How Many People Are Injured by Amusement Park Attractions?
In 2016, 30,900 people went to the E.R. for injuries caused by amusement park attractions, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
This number includes injuries suffered by young children. A 2013 study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital reported that every year roughly 4,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for amusement park injuries—an average of 20 injuries every summer day. The average age of those injured is just eight years old.
Common Amusement Park Injuries
In the data examined by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, head and neck were the most common body regions injured.
Other common amusement park injuries include the following:
- Head, neck, back, spinal injuries
- Motion sickness, including nausea and dizziness
- Torn ligaments
- Broken bones
- Brain aneurysms
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Causes of Amusement Park Injuries
In order to deliver the safest experience possible, amusement park attractions must have functioning parts and stable structures, as well as proper oversight from ride operators.
When injuries do occur, they are often caused by one or more of the following reasons.
- Mechanical issues: May involve cables snapping, brakes or restraints failing, or rides becoming stuck.
- Structural failures: Corrosion is a common problem for attractions.
- Operator error: Including not leaving enough space between patrons, failing to deploy safety nets and other features, stopping rides abruptly, or failing to properly restrain patrons.
- Collisions: With other patrons, cars, walls, or ride tracks and structures.
- Ride ejections: Falling out of cars, swings, slides, or being thrown from inflatable devices.
- Poor design: Some rides are inherently dangerous, even with restraints.
- Patron error: Failure to follow height requirements or health warnings, or not following safety instructions.
Interactive, unrestrained attractions (like water slides or inflatable devices) may pose greater safety risks because there aren’t any restraints. It is even more important that owners and operators inform patrons of the risks involved with these activities.
Are Amusement Park Attractions Regulated?
Amusement park attractions are regulated at the state and local levels, but not every state has safety standards and regulations.
Three states lack regulations or laws for amusement park safety.
To date, nine states have no agency with jurisdiction over amusement park safety, including Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Three states—Alabama, Mississippi, and Wyoming—don’t even have regulations or laws for amusement park safety.
In Florida, the Department of Agriculture regulates small amusement parks and carnivals. Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens are exempt from submitting accident reports and undergoing investigations.
It wasn’t always this way, though. The CPSC regulated amusement parks and mobile carnivals until 1981 when Congress passed a loophole that prevented the federal government from investigating amusement park accidents, sharing accident information with manufacturers and ride operators, and requiring manufacturers to address design flaws to make rides more safe.
Patchwork regulation replaced the CPSC’s federal oversight. In 1999, then-Rep. Ed Markey (D–MA) introduced a bill to place amusement parks under the authority of the federal government again. But the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), allegedly spent $11 million in lobbying to defeat it, according to Consumers Digest.
Jim Prager, former senior executive at Six Flags and board member of the IAAPA, helped fight for the amusement park regulation loophole in 1981. In a recent interview with CNN, he admitted that giving states and local authorities oversight of amusement parks was a bad decision.
“Children are not well served by the law as it now reads,” he said. “We haven’t done enough to make rides safe and we should do more.”
Lawsuits Filed after Deadly Amusement Park Accidents
The Sand Blaster roller coaster partially derailed, causing two passengers to fall 34 feet.
In addition to the tens of thousands of injuries that occur every year, there are a handful of unfortunate accidents that result in fatalities, further underscoring the need for stricter safety regulations.
Attorney Matt Morgan is representing five victims in the Daytona Beach Sand Blaster accident. On June 14, 2018, nine people were injured when the roller coaster partially derailed, causing two passengers to fall 34 feet while others waited to be rescued. The ride had allegedly failed inspections prior to the accident because of excessive corrosion and other safety hazards.
Excessive corrosion also played a role in the Fire Ball accident at the Ohio State Fair. A gondola from the ride detached and hit a metal support beam. One patron died and seven were injured.
In 2016, the Verruckt water slide in Kansas City’s Schlitterbahn Waterpark, said to be the tallest in the world, closed permanently after a tragic accident. A 10-year-old boy was decapitated when his raft went airborne and hit a metal bar, killing him. The boy’s family received a $20 million settlement from the ride’s owners and manufacturers.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Amusement Park Injuries?
Injured patrons may be eligible to file personal injury claims against one or more of the following parties associated with the amusement park attraction:
- Amusement park owners
- Ride operators
If any of these parties are found to be at fault for the patron’s injury, victims may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages (past and future), and other damages.
Injured on an Amusement Park Attraction? Contact Our Lawyers Today
Although amusement park attractions are supposed to appear dangerous to deliver a thrill, they shouldn’t actually be dangerous and send patrons to the hospital.
If you or a loved one were injured by an amusement or water park attraction, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation legal review.