When people hear about amusement park injuries, they automatically assume the worst: that someone fell off a rollercoaster or drowned in a water park. While these injuries do happen, they don't make up the majority of amusement park injuries. More often, children suffer concussions from a fall, adults hurt their backs and necks on roller coasters, or people suffer lacerations or broken bones from accidents caused by uneven surfaces, rough play and crowds of people.
If you've been hurt at a theme park, you can bring a claim against the park if the injury was caused by the direct action of an employee, a defective product, an unsafe zone or a defective ride. Furthermore, if there any medical bills created because of the accident, lost wages as a result of treating those injuries, or any other accident-related expenses, there may be compensation available to cover for these and other expenses.
Amusement or Water Park Accident Caused by Dangerous Rides, Poor Maintenance and Design Defects
Although exact data on amusement park injuries remains uncharted (particularly since the industry is largely unregulated in Texas and most personal injury lawsuits against amusement parks are settled confidentially), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates an annual increase in amusement park ride injuries of 17.4 percent. Statistically, more than half of all amusement park injuries are suffered by children. Currently, it's estimated that there are more than 11,000 injuries associated with dangerous rides in amusement parks each year.
As a personal injury attorney who's handled amusement park claims, I know they can be complex. Amusement park claims often involve a combination of product liability, negligence and premises liability. In many cases, separate claims will be made against the amusement park operator and the company that designed and manufactured the ride that caused the injury.
Issues commonly involved in amusement park accidents include:
- Mechanical failure
- Employee under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Improper assembly, including improperly calibrated cables
- Poor maintenance or hastily made repairs
- Design defects and structural flaws
- Exposed electric wires
- Unsecured mechanical equipment
- Improper belting or lack of proper safety harness
- Sharp and protruding ride parts
- Failure to shutoff or emergency stop
- Improper height and weight restrictions
- Abrupt seizure of mechanism
- Intentional rocking
- Poor lighting
What Laws Protect Texas Theme Park Visitors?
Unfortunately for Texans who find themselves injured after a rollercoaster or other ride accident, there is currently no federal oversight of amusement parks in the U.S. The amusement park industry at large and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions have prevented lawmakers from introducing federal oversight of potentially hazardous rides.
Although the Texas Department of Insurance does conduct annual inspections of certain rides, there is no state agency responsible for investigating amusement park accidents, even when they result in the death of a person. However, law enforcement officials from the local municipality, county or state may enter and inspect without notice at any time to ensure public safety and may immediately prohibit operation of an amusement ride for non-compliance or unsafe operation.
Do You Have a Case? Your Right to Make a Claim in Texas
In Texas, you have a right to make a claim for compensation against the amusement park that caused your injuries. However, there are a few stipulations. First, you have to be able to prove that your injuries were a direct result of park staff negligence (or manufacturer negligence, or cleaning crew negligence, etc.).
For example, let's say you suffered a fractured leg due to a broken water slide. You'll need to be able to show that the water slide was indeed the cause of your injury, but more importantly, that the water park knew about the broken slide and did nothing to fix it. Alternatively, if you can show that a manufacturers' poor design caused the water slide to break which led to your broken leg, you have a case.
All of this might sound complicated and difficult to do, but it's the way our justice system works. Pointing fingers is not enough. You'll need proof. There are certain types of evidence that can only be accessed through a legal channel, which is where personal injury attorneys shine. Personal injury attorneys can obtain records and video footage (such as from traffic cameras) that would be very difficult to obtain otherwise.
If you haven't already, I'd highly advise you to consult with a personal injury attorney. They can tell you if you have a valid case and the next steps you should take to ensure you recover full and fair compensation. While it is possible to pursue the company that is responsible for the amusement or water park's amenities and rides, the likelihood of successfully making them pay for your accident-related expenses may be very difficult for a variety of reason. For example, these companies typically have a legal team of their own, which means that there will be many attempts to confuse you with unnecessary legal jargon or misleading statements. Thinking about filing a claim against an amusement or water park company? Get an experienced and successful legal team on your side!
Compensation for Injured Amusement and Water Park Customers
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed on a Texas rollercoaster or other ride at a carnival, theme park, festival or fair ground, then it's important that you consult with an experienced Dallas-Fort Worth rollercoaster and amusement park ride injury lawyer. The board certified personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Anderson Law Firm offer all amusement park accident victims and their family members a free, no obligation consultation to discuss the specifics of their case.