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Amusement Parks: The Fun Can Come With Risks

August 9, 2017

amusement parks

Who doesn’t love an amusement park? Many parks offer much more than rides, so even those who don’t like rollercoasters can find something to do. Unfortunately though, some parks don’t provide the proper level of safety, and as a result, people can get hurt or even killed. Just a couple of weeks ago, a ride in Ohio threw several passengers. One person died and others suffered serious injuries. Our thoughts are with the family of the young man who died and those who suffered injuries due to the ride apparently falling apart.

Video of Amusement Park Ride Breaking Apart

This disturbing video shows the damage to the ride orrur and people being thrown. Please use caution in viewing the video. It includes a slow motion replay. Also note that the comments on YouTube include foul language, if you visit YouTube to view the video.

What Happened on the Fire Ball in Ohio?

According to the maker of the ride, “excessive corrosion” caused the deadly event. The video above and on CNN seems to show the structure, Fire Ball, breaking apart while in motion.

Who is Responsible When Something Goes Wrong at an Amusement Park?

In 2016 “there were an estimated 30,900 injuries associated with amusement attractions seen in emergency departments.” Most of these incidents are not fatal, but some cause serious, life changing injuries. In those cases, there may be liability on the part of the park or festival.

Liability

The owners of amusement parks and fairs are responsible for making certain their rides are properly kept and are safe for use. If the ride is rented by a fair, then the organization or city running the fair and/or the owners of the ride are responsible for the proper upkeep of the rides. The key is regular preventative maintenance and inspections. Amusement parks are also responsible for providing proper instruction to riders, and making certain that those riders are using restraints appropriately. In addition, the operator must be trained on how to run the ride and how to provide the right instructions to the riders. If the ride is uniquely dangerous, perhaps to people with heart conditions, or to people under a certain height, appropriate signs must be posted. Failure to take these and other steps resulting in injury, may give rise to a premises liability lawsuit.

Another potential source of liability falls under what we call product liability. If the ride is defective in its design or manufacture, and as a result you are injured, you may have the basis for a lawsuit. What makes a ride defective? An improperly designed lap belt which comes undone causing you to fall, or a manufacturing defect in the ride which causes it to fall apart are potential examples.

What about Assumption of Risk?

You might wonder whether you have any responsibility if you are injured at an amusement park. The answer is that you may. Certainly, when we choose to engage in dangerous activities, we take on what is called assumption of risk. As a result, it is important that you or your children follow all instructions when going on any ride. You most certainly don’t want to be hurt. It is critical to tell your children to listen prior to the operator prior to visiting a park, and then again at the park. It is easy for an excited child to fail to listen and fail to take the proper safety precaution. For very young children, it is important that an adult check and make sure they are properly restrained in the seat. If you or a loved one is injured due to a failure to listen and follow instructions, it is unlikely that you will have a case against an amusement park.

Waivers

Some amusement parks may ask you to  sign a waiver. While waivers can prevent a lawsuit in the case of simple negligence, they will not prevent a lawsuit when an injury is due to gross negligence or intentional misconduct on the part of the amusement park. Therefore, even if you signed a waiver you should still speak with a lawyer if you were injured.

Choosing Safe Amusement Parks

There is very little federal regulation surrounding amusement park rides. State regulations vary greatly. As a result, it can be very difficult to know whether it is a good idea to visit a specific amusement park or ride a certain attraction. Carnival rides that move around are covered by the COnsumer Product Safety Commission. Fixed rides, that is the type you find at a traditional park, are controlled by state and local government. These rides are exempt from federal oversight.

The best way to decrease your risk of harm is to look at the park or fair. Is it well-kept? Is there trash around? Do you see any red flags that make you think the owners or operators are not taking care of the event? A dirty site is one that may not be safe.

Also ask yourself are the ride operators:

  • Paying attention?
  • Enforcing height rules?
  • Providing appropriate instructions?

Listen and watch before you go on the ride. If at any point you do not feel like the ride will be safe, listen to your gut and choose a different ride, or even a different park or festival. Also, remember to talk to your children about the rides and making sure they follow safety rules.

Hurt in an Amusement Park?

If you or a loved one were injured in an amusement park due to negligence on the part of the park or its operators, feel free to contact Lowenthal & Abrams. We will discuss what happened and give you an honest opinion on your case. There is no fee to talk and no fee unless we obtain compensation for your injuries.

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