The number of injuries in the study doesn’t surprise Florida attorney Ben Stewart, from Stewart Law Group PLLC. “We have handled dozens of these kinds of cases,” says Stewart. “We had a doctor who suffered a brain injury on a Mission to Mars ride at Disney World, a nurse who broke her ankles on a waterslide and a little girl whose intestines were flooded with water from a malfunctioning water jet on another waterslide.
“There are of course less serious injuries--even coin-operated amusements found at shopping malls can be a source for injury to children--but many can be catastrophic,” say Stewart. “Some people get injured at the park, they think, I am just sore, they go home and don’t file a report. Come the next day, they have major symptomology,” says Stewart. “So 12 hours have passed and there is some potential there to say that there is some intervening issue that caused the injury.
“Naturally, your first concern is medical attention, but you should also report that accident and get it on the record. If you wait too long, the midway may have been disassembled and moved on to the next location. There’s no way to see how the ride malfunctioned, or question the workers. The evidence is gone,” Stewart adds.
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), the largest association of fixed-ride amusement parks, maintains on its website that the chance of being seriously injured is one in 24 million.
However, the Ohio study reports that between 1990 and 2010, almost 93,000 children made visits to emergency wards for some type of amusement park ride injury. About 11,000 of those injuries occurred on small, coin-operated rides in the mall. Many of the children were under the age of five. The mall rides may be more dangerous because they don’t usually have restraints and are set up in mall areas with hard cement floors. Young children may also have a harder time balancing themselves on these rides.
“All of the amusement park injury cases we have handled at Stewart Law were settled out of court,” says Stewart. “You see few of these lawsuits. The industry doesn’t want you to see them. They settle because they don’t want them on the public record.”
Many people don’t realize immediately how serious the injury is.
“People get off the roller coaster and feel like they have motion sickness,” says Stewart. “They don’t realize that they have actually suffered a closed head injury,” says Stewart. “The nurse that broke her ankles thought she was okay. She didn’t want to spoil the day for her family and it was only the next day that her feet turned black and she realized how seriously she had been hurt,” says Stewart.
There are also a lot of accidents that happen by just being in close proximity to the ride.
“There are workers who get injured or people who are standing near the ride that can be injured as well,” say Stewart. “We had a young lady with a skull fracture and brain damage because of inadequate barriers between her and the ride,” says Stewart. “The barrier was inadequate, it was just a flexible cable and she ducked under it to look at something and she got in the way of the moving ride.
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Ben Stewart is an experienced prosecutor, municipal magistrate and civil trial lawyer dedicated to handling cases of people harmed by professional negligence. He is a graduate of the University of Tampa Washburn School of Law (JD 1997) and Phi Delta Phi. N.I.T.A.’s Training the Advocate College, University of San Francisco’s Intensive Advocacy program. In addition to a full research and associate staff, Ben Stewart has arranged to contract other professionals from virtually every field of specialized law. His practice areas include Professional Negligence, Legal Malpractice, Securities Litigation, Class-Action Litigation, Products Liability, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death.