A day at the amusement park is supposed to be a fun outing with your family or friends. Unfortunately, not all of these trips end with happy memories. When compared to the number of people who visit these parks over the course of a year, injuries are fairly uncommon, but those that do occur can be devastating. Getting hurt on a ride today could mean years of medical problems in the future, missed time at work, lost wages and distress for you and your family.
Injuries from rides, games, poorly kept grounds and other hazards don’t only occur at amusement parks. Visiting any recreational venue carries some measure of risk.
While amusement parks and theme parks are the most obvious places for potential dangers to be found, hazards may also be present at:
When you visit one of these venues, you expect that the managers and ride manufacturers have taken precautions to ensure the safety of their patrons. However, with everyone trying to offer the “next big thing” in the form of rides and attractions that are faster, taller and more daring than what competitors have, proper protocols aren’t always followed. Oversights can lead to anything from a simple slip and fall incident to the death of one or more people.
In most cases, the venue or the manufacturers of the unsafe ride are liable for any damage caused by accidents. Understanding the most common types of injuries, how to determine liability and what to do if you feel you have a legitimate case will help you get the compensation you deserve.
Many amusement park and carnival rides involve fast speeds, sudden turns, prolonged spinning or extreme heights. These are normal parts of the “thrill” that draws crowds, but those same thrills can quickly turn into tragedies if something goes wrong.
One or more factors may result in a ride or attraction becoming unsafe. Negligence on the part of the ride operator or the park’s managers is one of the most common causes. This may include poor ride maintenance, improper operation, inadequate training or failure to alert riders to special safety restrictions. It’s also possible for ride operators to make mistakes even if they are usually diligent in their jobs. Manufacturer’s errors or defects in the machinery can cause rides to stop or fail without warning regardless of how well they’re operated. Such defects are more likely in new attractions that have been rushed to market without enough prior testing.
Any of these elements can create conditions that put you at risk for:
You may even be at risk for food poisoning when visiting a park or carnival if one of the iconic treats you try is contaminated or improperly prepared.
The equipment used at amusement parks and other venues is generally regarded as safe. By installing and operating the equipment, both the manufacturer and the park are agreeing that they deem it to be free from defects. If problems are discovered but not fixed, anyone who is injured by the ride in question has a case against the parties involved.
According to a 2006 report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 8,800 people went to the emergency room that year for injuries sustained at amusement parks. An additional 3,100 were injured on water slides, and inflatable attractions caused 3,600 more incidents. Children accounted for around half of all injuries.
On average, about 4.5 deaths per year occurred from amusement park accidents between 1987 and 2000, although the numbers declined slightly in subsequent years.
Fatalities break down between rides to show that:
Some reports indicate that the least violent rides, such as merry-go-rounds, cause the highest number of total injuries and that more injuries occur at smaller venues. Since the rides at carnivals and fairs are set up and taken down repeatedly over the years, it may be possible that the risk for defects is greater at these sites. Since these types of accidents are often under-reported, it’s hard to know for sure where the most injuries occur.
Any venue that invites the public to enjoy special attractions has a duty to maintain the proper safety of its equipment and grounds. Two types of liability laws cover these duties: product liability and premises liability.
Product liability is the legal term for the acknowledgement that any products or equipment used at an amusement park are safe and in good working order. Failure to maintain this safety makes either the park or the manufacturer liable for any resulting problems.
Premises liability refers to the guarantee that you’ll be safe walking from one attraction to another and that any potential hazards will be clearly labeled. Any dangerous areas that aren’t noted with appropriate signs or barriers could cause injuries that the park is at fault for.
In some cases, however, visitors are the ones responsible for their own injuries. If you don’t listen to a ride operator’s instructions, ignore posted safety risks or act in a reckless manner, you won’t be able to claim that another party caused any subsequent accidents. Always behave responsibly to ensure that you’re doing all you can to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
To prove that a venue or a ride manufacturer is liable for your injury, it’s necessary to report the incident right away. Going on with your day assuming that the pain from being thrown against a barrier during a sudden stop will go away or that the cut on your leg from falling off a broken step will heal without a problem leaves you with little recourse should the condition worsen at a later time.
If you sustain an injury on a ride or as the result of poor park maintenance, take the following steps:
If an insurance company representative or legal counsel for the other parties involved contacts you, direct them to speak with your lawyer. Both the insurance company and the park are likely to be looking for a quick settlement to avoid negative publicity. However, these settlements are often too small to cover the expenses related to your injury. Let your lawyer use his or her connections to ensure that the situation is fully investigated so that you can get the money you’re entitled to.
Keeping clear documentation shows exactly how much you’re spending or losing as a result of getting hurt at a recreational venue. Your lawyer will use these and other documents to help work out a settlement. If this isn’t possible, the case may go to court.
This is when having an experienced lawyer on your side becomes even more important. Winning a court case requires solid knowledge of the laws involved and the ability to apply those laws to your particular situation. Having trustworthy legal counsel makes it possible to build a case against the park or equipment manufacturer and present all the relevant facts to prove that you should be given compensation. If recklessness or negligence made the situation worse, you may also be entitled to punitive damages above and beyond other related expenses.
The lawyers at Doan Law Firm have decades of experience in handling amusement park injury lawsuits. A team of experts headed by Jimmy Doan is ready to hear your side of the story and determine the best way to move forward with your case. The Doan Law Firm lawyers know how to navigate the necessary legalities to get you the best settlement possible.
Contact one of our experienced lawyers any time, day or night, for a free consultation at (800) 349-0000.
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