Accidents Are Not Amusing


June 8, 2015 / Personal Injury

It’s a beautiful day. You and your family are out to enjoy yourselves at an amusement park. You feel great anticipation as you climb into the ride’s car. This will be exciting and fun!

Unfortunately, perhaps it won’t.

We’ve all heard the stories — from the derailed roller coaster car that flew into a tree at a California park in 2014, to the woman who fell out of a roller coaster in Texas in 2013, to the story of the young woman who suffered amputation by a flying cable at nearby Kentucky Kingdom in 2007.

At this point, you might be wondering if amusement parks are really that dangerous.

Risky Rides

Amusement parks are responsible for a surprising number of injuries. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has estimated that, during 2011, 37,154 people were injured seriously enough to require treatment in an emergency room. Of those people, 35,977 were released; 1,177 were admitted to the hospital or died. It should be pointed out that, in an average year, there are fewer than five fatalities from amusement park rides in the U.S., about the same number of people as die from shark attacks yearly.

Not surprisingly, about one-half of those injured by amusement park rides are children, with kids between the ages of ten and 14 suffering the highest number of injuries, 17.9 percent. In accidents where a rider either falls or is ejected from a ride, three-fourths of the victims are children.

Lack of Federal Oversight

The CPSC does regulate amusement park rides that travel from place to place, such as those found at fairs and carnivals, but it has no jurisdiction over fixed-site rides, like the ones at the various Six Flags parks. Nor does it have jurisdiction over the new “launched wing roller coaster” that opened recently at the Holiday World theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana.

Common Injuries Sustained at Parks

Some of the most common injuries at amusement parks are:

  • Head, neck, and back injuries from impacts or being whipped around.
  • Falling out of, or being thrown from, a ride, causing broken bones, torn ligaments, lacerations, and death.
  • Traumatic brain injury, either from an impact with an object or from G-forces acting on the brain that are caused by extremely fast speeds.

Reasons for Amusement Park Injuries

The CPSC considers the following points to be the major contributing factors to amusement park injuries and fatalities:

  • Inherent nature of the ride: there is no defect or negligence. The ride has risks because of the way it moves or runs.
  • Passenger fault: the passenger may fail to follow instructions or act irresponsibly, by standing up during the ride, unlatching a safety restraint, and so on.
  • Mechanical failure: parts detach or break. This can be caused by a manufacturing defect, or improper maintenance, which can mean negligence.
  • Incorrect operation: the operator stops the ride without warning, or doesn’t latch a safety belt or bar properly. Again, this can mean negligence.

The Kentucky Kingdom accident was found to have occurred because fatigue made the cable fail, and the operators did not follow the exact protocol in the ride’s manual. The family sued on the grounds of negligence and an out-of-court settlement was reached.

Before You Go…

Before you go out to have fun this summer, always remember to obey the rules of each ride and take precautions. You can find specific safety suggestions on the Saferparks web site.

When something goes wrong, we are left to wonder.

Were you or a family member injured by an amusement park ride? If you think you might have a case, keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations – or a deadline – for filing personal injury claims, so it is unwise to delay. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. Don’t lose the opportunity to obtain the money you need to put your life back on track and to make your family’s future financially secure. Call Mike Stephenson at 1-317-825-5200 or contact us for immediate help. At Stephenson Rife, when others breach their duty, we keep ours.

Attorney Mike Stephenson

Attorney Mike StephensonMike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, and fire, just to name a few. He also works extensively in construction accidents. [ Attorney Bio ]

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