Amusement parks are commercial places where the owners offer paying guests a variety of rides and other activities, e.g., games, for the amusement of the guests. Disneyland is one of the oldest and most well-known amusement parks.
Amusement parks may offer rides such as roller coasters, ferris wheels, bumper cars, and the like. Inflatable amusement parks have grown in popularity and size in the recent past. Most plastic, inflatable structures are rented to people for use in residential backyards or at schools and the like for celebratory events. Now, however, rental companies offer complete indoor inflatable theme parks. These can be set up as a business in themselves. Offering admission to attendees can be the business model.
Some amusement parks may offer water features that include swimming, so swimming pool accidents or water park injuries are a risk of use.
In addition to fun and good times, on occasion, serious accidents take place in amusement parks. These accidents can range from ordinary slip and fall or trip and fall accidents of the type that can happen anywhere to unusual and sometimes catastrophic accidents that are unique to amusement park rides.
For example, in 2022, an amusement park in Ohio permanently closed its roller coaster, which, at the height of 420 feet, was at the time the 2nd tallest in the world. The park closed the roller coaster because a small metal object had flown off of it and struck a woman who was in the park on the head at the park.
A state investigation found no evidence that the park acted illegally or had reason to believe the ride was unsafe. The report blamed the accident on the “instantaneous overload fracture” of a bolt that held a plate in place on the ride.
Again, in 2022, a 14-year-old boy suffered a fatal fall in an amusement park in Florida. He fell from a ride that takes participants up and then drops them nearly 400 feet at speeds that can reach 75 miles per hour and more. A forensic engineering firm was hired to investigate and concluded that two seats on the ride had been adjusted manually to allow for larger rides. The boy weighed more than the weight limit for the ride.
In 2021 an 11-year-old boy died, and another juvenile was critically injured when a raft ride at an Iowa amusement park overturned. Two other passengers were also injured less severely.
People are injured in amusement park accidents all over the world. A number of people were injured in India on a drop tower attraction that malfunctioned. A part of the ride with about 50 people inside dropped precipitously to the ground and caused injury to approximately 16 women and children.
Who Is Liable for Amusement Park Accidents?
The people and entities who might be liable and the legal theories of liability may vary depending on the state in which the amusement park is located. This is because the law that governs accidents and injuries of the type that occur in amusement parks is state law. These laws are generally similar in all states, but there are differences as well.
If a person suffers a significant injury because a ride is defective or faulty, the manufacturer and distributor of the ride can be liable to pay damages to compensate the victim.
The manufacturer and distributors of the ride would be liable on the theory of strict product liability. The law of strict product liability makes the manufacturer and distributor of a product liable if a defect in the product causes personal injury or property loss to a victim. Products defects are generally of three types as follows:
- Design Defects: The design of the product is faulty;
- Manufacturing Defects: A defect in the product arose during the manufacturing process;
- Warning Defects: The product was not sold without adequate warnings as to the dangers posed by the use of the product or without adequate instructions regarding how to use it safely.
A person who claims strict product liability is not required to prove negligence on the part of any person or entity. Rather, they must only prove that a product, e.g., an amusement park ride, was defective in some way and that the defect caused personal injury or property damage to the victim.
Of course, negligence is another theory that can lead to liability on the part of a number of different entities and people associated with amusement parks. A person who is injured in an amusement park might find that negligence on the part of ride manufacturers, park owners, and possibly operators if the park owner has subcontracted out the operation of the rides.
It is possible that a company that is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the rides could be liable for negligence. A person would have to investigate the cause of any accident in which they were injured and how they might be responsible.
If the negligence of an employee of the amusement park owner or a subcontractor is the cause of the accident in which a victim is injured, then the owner or subcontractor could be liable on a theory of respondeat superior. This is a legal doctrine that holds the employer or another principal responsible for the negligent acts of an employee or agent if their acts happen within the scope of the employee’s job or the agent’s agency.
Usually, when a respondeat superior applies in a case, the victim works to hold both the employer and the employee or the principal and agent liable. Then the doctrine of joint and several liability can apply to make both liable for the full amount of damages awarded to the victim.
What Damages Can I Recover for My Amusement Park Injury?
A person who is successful with a personal injury lawsuit for strict product liability or negligence would be awarded compensatory damages and, in the rare case, punitive damages. Compensatory damages reimburse the victim for both their economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages compensate a victim for such losses as the following:
- Medical Care: The cost of all of their necessary medical treatment and any future treatment that the victim may require;
- Permanent Consequences: Permanent injury, e.g., disfigurement from scars;
- Lost Wages;
- Lost Future Income;
- Loss of Earning Capacity;
- Any Property Damage.
Non-economic damages compensate a victim for losses associated with the mental and emotional aspects of their injuries, such as the pain and suffering that a person experiences because of their physical injuries.
Do I Need the Help of a Personal Injury Attorney for My Amusement Park Injury?
If you have suffered a significant personal injury or property damage in an incident at an amusement park, you should reach out to a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can review the facts of your case and investigate who may be responsible for the accident in which you were injured and who may be liable legally. An investigation that involves the machinery of an amusement park ride could be technical and require the help of mechanical engineers.
Your lawyer knows how to identify the appropriate experts and use them to the advantage of your case. Your lawyer can represent you in negotiations and in court if that should become necessary. A case that involves an amusement park accident is the type of case that requires the help of an experienced attorney.