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Amusement Park Accident FAQ

General Amusement Park Injury Questions

What is considered an amusement park when discussing amusement park accidents?

For the purposes of this Amusement Park Injury FAQ, we use the term "amusement park" to cover everything from street fairs to large-scale theme parks, water parks and animal or zoo parks. This FAQ covers water park injuries, theme park accidents, amusement park accidents, carnival accidents, street fair accidents, zoo accidents and other animal park accidents.

What are amusement park injuries?

Injuries at amusement parks run a wide range from whiplash, broken bones and minor injuries to serious internal injuries, neck and back injuries, heart attacks, paralysis and, in some cases, death.

Any injury that occurs on amusement park grounds, whether it's on a ride, waiting in line, walking on the grounds, waiting in a restroom, watching a show or eating in a facility could potentially result in a claim being filed against the amusement park owner, operator or workers. Furthermore, if the injury occurred while on a ride, the manufacturer, designer and/or operator of the ride could face a lawsuit.

What claims can be filed following amusement park accidents?

Claims that can be filed, depending on the circumstances of the injuries, include wrongful death, personal injury, negligence, slip and fall injury and defective product claims.

Questions for Amusement Park Visitors or Guests

What legal responsibility do amusement park owners have to park guests?

Amusement park owners have a legal responsibility to ensure that their property and attractions are properly maintained, kept in a reasonably safe condition and reasonably free from hazards. Owners and operators have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent an accident or injury from occurring.

Amusement park owner responsibility may differ by the type of park, but it would include things like ensuring that amusement park staff are properly trained to operate the rides they are assigned to oversee; personnel are certified as required for their jobs--such as workers needing lifeguard training or CPR training; animals are properly kept within their designated areas or cages where they cannot cause harm to park guests; proper safety equipment is kept, maintained, and handed out as required for rides such life preservers or floatation devices for use in water wave pools or water rapids rides.

When can I file a lawsuit against an amusement park?

If you or someone you love was injured in an amusement park accident, and that accident would have been preventable if the amusement park owner or operator had taken reasonable steps, you may be able to file an amusement park injury lawsuit.

Furthermore, if the design of a ride was defective or if the ride had improper safety features, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the designer or manufacturer of the ride in question. If the ride operator failed to follow adequate safety procedures—or if the amusement park did not have proper safety procedures in place—you may be able to file a lawsuit for any harm caused.

Depending on the state you are in, the statute of limitations varies. It is wise to consult an attorney as soon as possible to determine how long you have to file an amusement park accident lawsuit.

What if a family member died in an amusement park accident?

If a family member died in an amusement park accident due to negligence on the part of the owner, operator or staff at the amusement park, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible for the theme park accident.

Aren't amusement parks relatively safe and free of amusement park accidents?

Millions of people attend theme parks every year and are not involved in a theme park accident. That does not mean, however, that there are no amusement park accidents. Sometimes, a ride is not properly maintained or is improperly operated, resulting in serious harm to park guests. Other times, maintenance around the park or lack of warning about hazards can result in harm.

While it is true that in the majority of instances, amusement park guests do not sustain injuries while on rides, according to a report from The Daily Beast (August 5, 2010), which looked at available 2009 amusement park injury data for 10 states and then extrapolated the extent to which injury had occurred nationwide on certain rides. The following rides were listed in their report, "Most Dangerous Amusement Park Rides", along with the estimated number of incidents resulting in injury in the US for that year:

Ride Number of Incidents
Roller Coaster 495
Water Slides 438
Wooden Roller Coaster 87
Water Park Playgrounds 84
Alpine Slide 72
Car Rides 72
Water Flumes 72
Slides 69
Carousel 60
Rafting Rides 60
Train Ride 57
Rides in the Dark 54
Go Kart 51
Simulators 51

Additionally, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report, "Amusement Ride-Related Injuries and Deaths in the United States - 2005 Update", for years 1987 to 2004 there were 67 documented fatalities with 46 from fixed-site rides, 13 from mobile rides, and 8 from unknown-site rides.

Also, with the popularity of inflatable rides growing, so too have the number of inflatable ride accidents grown. According to the same CPSC report, in 2004, inflatable rides, such as inflatable slides and bounces, accounted for an estimated 4,900 non-occupational injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms.

Questions for Amusement Park Workers

What legal responsibility do amusement park owners have to workers?

Amusement park owners have a responsibility to provide a work environment that is relatively safe and free from hazards. They also have a responsibility to ensure workers are properly trained to operate equipment and fully understand safety procedures.

When can I file a workers' compensation claim against an amusement park?

It depends on your employment with the park. Some employees are eligible for workers' compensation. Other workers, however, might be outsourced, meaning they may not be eligible for workers' compensation. In such cases, they may have to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for harm done as a result of a theme park accident.
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Last updated on Mar-29-11

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