Amusement park accidents cause thousand of injuries every year. According to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 8,800 people suffered injury on amusement park rides in 2006. These statistics include only injuries which warranted emergency room treatment, meaning the total number of injuries could be much higher.
An additional 3,600 people were injured on inflatable amusement park rides, and 3,100 were injured on public water slides. Children between ages ten and 14 make up 17.9 percent of reported injuries, From 1987 to 2000, 51 people were killed on amusement park rides. The most dangerous rides proved to be roller coasters, resulting in 16 deaths, and whirling rides, which cause 11 deaths.
Statistics show that amusement park accidents are more common than many may think. Injuries range from cuts, bruises, broken bones, head trauma, and even death. People injured at an amusement park may have the option to bring a negligence claim against the park and its employees, a product liability claim against the ride’s manufacturer, or a combination of both.
The most common types of amusement park accidents include:
- head, neck, and back injuries from bumper car rides
- head, neck, or back injuries from being whipped around on spinning rides and roller coasters
- stroke resulting from trauma to ligaments in the neck
- traumatic brain injury from G-forces and stresses imposed on the brain by extremely rapid speeds
- traumatic brain injury from detached objects hitting the rider’s head
- brain aneurysms from roller coasters and other fast rides
- lacerations, broken bones, and torn ligaments
- drowning on water slides, “lazy river” rides, and other water rides
- death from falling off of or being thrown from a ride
According to the CPSC, amusement park accidents and injuries have a few common causes. First of all, amusement park accidents are often caused by a mechanical failure of the ride. For instance, a ride’s lap bar might detach, or another structural component breaks resulting in accident or injury. Mechanical failure can be caused by a manufacturing defect, or the park’s failure to properly maintain the ride.
Some accidents are caused by incorrect operation of the ride by the operator. An example of this would be if the operator abruptly stops the ride, or incorrectly latches a seatbelt.
Occasionally, amusement park accidents are caused by the passenger’s failure to properly follow safety instructions. For instance, a rider might stand up during the ride, unlatch their seat belt, or intentionally rock the ride car.
Sometimes a ride’s design is inherently dangerous, even without a mechanical defect or manufacturing error. The CPSC states that amusement park attendants have reported cases of cerebral and retinal hemorrhage, subdural hematoma, loss of consciousness, headache, and dizziness due to the extreme rapid spinning of certain amusement park rides.
If the accident was caused by the carelessness of the park or a park employee, the injured party could have a claim for negligence. In a negligence claim, the injured party has to prove that the defendant failed to act with reasonable care, and that their carelessness caused the injury. The park or park employees can be negligent by doing something (such as improperly operating a ride” or failing to do something (such as failing to properly inspect the rides.) The injured party may have grounds for a product liability claim if the accident was caused by a defective ride, defective ride parts, or an inherently dangerous ride design.