Roller coaster accidents are accidents that occur when roller coaster rides fail to operate properly or when an individual incorrectly operates the roller coaster ride. These types of accidents occur in various places.
However, roller coaster accidents often occur in amusement parks, theme parks, and other similar settings. Typical examples of roller coaster accidents include:
- Collisions with other roller coaster cars;
- Harsh stops or defects with the braking and stopping mechanisms;
- Derailment of the coaster cars;
- Malfunctions with rides that turn inverted;
- Accident involving a collapse of supporting structures;
- Injuries or accidents related to failures of:
- safety restraints;
- belts; or
- Accidents related to drops or steep embankments;
- Various other types of accidents.
A roller coaster accident may result in serious bodily injuries or even death. Injuries that an individual may suffer on a roller coaster accident include:
What About Personal Injury Liability and Amusement Park Rides?
An amusement park may provide a great deal of entertainment. However, they can also pose an inherent risk of injury, with thousands of individuals being injured every year.
Which party is required to pay for damages when a park visitor is injured depends on many factors. If an individual is injured while at an amusement park or theme park and pursues an injury claim against the amusement park, premises liability laws will likely apply.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Roller Coaster Accident or Injury?
There are numerous different parties that may be held liable for a roller coaster accident or injury. Liability will depend on many different factors, such as:
- The nature of the accident;
- Who contributed to the accident;
- Whether there were any intervening factors in the accident.
Examples of parties that may be held liable for roller coaster accidents may include:
- The operator or conductor of the ride, especially if they were negligent;
- Individuals who are responsible for the assembly of the ride;
- Individuals who are associated with the maintenance, repair, or upkeep of a ride;
- Manufacturers of the ride, especially if there was a defective product or part.
What Types of Factors Determine Reasonable Care?
Reasonable care related to roller coasters and amusement park rides, in general, deal with the level of danger of the ride itself. For example, a court is likely to expect minimal maintenance and supervision for a merry-go-round.
A roller coaster, on the other hand, is likely to require constant supervision. For the most extreme types of rides, a court may even impose a standard of care that is similar to those imposed on common carriers, such as subways, airplanes, and trains.
In addition, courts may consider the following factors in roller coaster accident cases:
- The average age of the intended rider;
- The rider’s own contribution to causing their injury;
- Interference by third parties;
- Events or factors that may have caused the injury;
- Infractions of state inspection codes or regulations;
- Prior accidents on the ride.
What About Accidents Caused by Negligence?
If park management or a park employee causes an accident at an amusement park, a negligence lawsuit will likely be filed. In a standard negligence claim, the plaintiff will be required to prove that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
An amusement park will be held responsible for the actions of its employees. Therefore, an injured party may sue an amusement park if an employee is negligent.
An amusement park or its employees may be negligent if they either engage in negligent conduct or fail to do something, for example:
- Not posting clear warning signs that, for example, patrons with blood pressure problems or heart problems should not ride a specific ride;
- Signs that do not sufficiently warn a rider of the risks involved;
- Not properly training ride operators;
- Failing to maintain ride equipment in a safe condition;
- The rides are not regularly inspected;
- Operating a ride improperly; or
- Giving incorrect instructions to riders.
What if the Amusement Park Built the Ride Itself?
If an amusement park built the ride itself, it may be sued for personal injury based on product liability. In these cases, the park will be held strictly liable, which means that the court will not be required to consider whether or not reasonable care was taken.
In some cases, courts have imposed product liability even in cases when the amusement park did not build the ride.
What About Premises Liability and Amusement Parks?
Injuries that are caused by a particular condition or use of land, a building, or other premises are referred to as premises liability. In an amusement park, this includes:
- General conditions.
Although there are variances by state, premises liability generally recognizes three different types of entrants onto land:
There are various degrees of care that are owed by the landowner to each of these types of entrants. In some states, the laws do not differentiate between the types of entrants and hold amusement park owners responsible for making the park reasonably safe under the circumstances.
What Is the Duty of Care?
Amusement park rides have to be safe for reasonably foreseeable uses. Typically, this means having:
- Adequate restraints;
- Frequent maintenance and inspections;
- Safety instructions;
- Employee supervision.
This does not mean that a defendant will be automatically liable if a plaintiff is injured on a ride. For example, if a rider did something unforeseeable or ignored clear instructions.
This type of situation may occur if, for example, the rider extends their arms or legs outside of a dissenting cage after being instructed not to do so. Because a defendant has a responsibility to maintain rides and keep them safe, it is not likely that they will be able to claim a freak accident occurred.
The defendant would be under a high duty to ensure that conditions that could potentially lead to a malfunction are identified and fixed because most amusement park rides are inherently dangerous. There are many states that have regulations that establish a duty to maintain rides or establish the defendant amusement park’s duty of care related to rides.
If a ride had a faulty design or an inherent defect, an injured plaintiff may also be able to sue the ride manufacturer.
Are There Any Legal Remedies Available for a Roller Coaster Accident Claim?
A roller coaster accident may result in various legal remedies. The most common remedy awarded in these types of cases is a money award.
This award is provided to the injured party and allows them to recoup the losses they suffered as a result of the accident, such as:
In certain roller coaster accidents, a class action suit may be filed if several individuals are injured by the same cause. If an individual or individuals were killed as a result of the accident, wrongful death claims may be filed.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With a Roller Coaster Accident Lawsuit?
If you have been injured as a result of a roller coaster accident, it is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. These types of accidents may result in serious injuries and even death.
Your lawyer can determine the parties that may be liable and file a lawsuit on your behalf to obtain compensation for your injuries. If your loved one was killed as a result of the accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
These types of cases involve large amounts of complex evidence, including expert testimony and numerous different laws, so it is best to have an attorney present your case on your behalf.