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Amusement Park Accidents: When Delight Turns Into Fright

It’s rare to talk to someone who doesn’t have a memory of spending a warm summer day as a child, running around a theme park, deciding which ride to go on next. Most children spend years waiting until they are finally tall enough to ride certain rides, such as roller coasters, and the thrill and excitement gained doesn’t fade in adulthood.

For thrill seekers who love the adrenaline rush that amusement park rides give them, there are plenty of choices. There are over 400 amusement parks in the United States and more than 300 million visitors go every single year, even traveling to other states seeking new rides.

In order to keep these visitors entertained, park officials are constantly working with engineers and designers to come up with new taller, faster, and scarier rides. Part of that design is supposed to cover the safety aspects, however, as many learn, theme parks are not always as safe as they should be.

For more types of vacation accidents, see what our ski lift accident attorneys have to share. 

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How Do So Many People Get Hurt?

So how is it that thousands of amusement park visitors become seriously hurt every year? There most common ways include:

  • Defective Rides: Any part of a ride can end up being defective. The design, the safety bar, or even the wheels or joints connecting the cab of the ride to the trunk.
  • Poorly Maintained Rides: Even if the ride was once in good condition with no defect, rides are used for hours every day and parts wear down. In addition to this, many are left exposed to the elements year round. It is the responsibility of the theme park to ensure every single ride on the premises is inspected regularly and maintained.
  • Operator Mistakes: Operators can and do make mistakes which can result in an accident that harms everyone who is unlucky enough to be onboard.
  • Failing To Notify Riders Of Potential Issues: There are some rides which should not be ridden by anyone with high blood pressure, heart conditions, or prior injuries such as a back or neck injury. It is the responsibility of the park to warn riders of the risk. In addition to health conditions, operators must make sure that children are large enough to get on the ride.
  • Slip & Fall Hazards: Some of the worst accidents don’t even involve rides. Spilled liquids, uneven sidewalks, broken stairs, and broken handrails can all contribute to a fall onto a hard surface.
  • Unsafe Water Rides: Whether it’s a defective part, a poor design, or a lack of supervision around a water ride, the reality is that not only can serious injury occur, but if knocked unconscious, the victim can easily drown.

Whatever the cause, victims can easily end up with:

  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Nerve damage
  • Lacerations
  • Spinal damage
  • Amputations

It’s easy to shrug this information off and think “That would never happen to me or someone I love. It’s a rare occurrence.” But are these accidents really uncommon?

A Week Of Shock

In August of 2016, at least five children were seriously injured or killed at a theme park in a single week.

10-Year-Old Killed On A Water Slide

In a horrific accident, a 10-year-old boy lost his life while enjoying a fun day at a water park. He decided to go on a slide that has a 168 plummet. During the fall, he somehow was ejected from his seat and flew into the air, bouncing between safety netting and the slide, then eventually sliding down to the bottom. The speed and impact of his ejected caused a neck injury and decapitation, killing him.

Three Girls Dumped From Ferris Wheel

On August 8th, 2016, three girls ages, 6, 10, and 16, were in a Ferris wheel bucket when the unimaginable happened. The bucket suddenly overturned completely in midair. All three of the girls were dumped out and fell 35 – 40 feet to the hard concrete ground below.

While all three girls survived, they were severely injured. The six-year-old sustained a traumatic brain injury and internal bleeding that caused her to be placed on a ventilator for an extended period of time. Although she was able to come off the ventilator and go home to her family, she has difficulty speaking and continues to have seizures caused by brain damages. She will need ongoing physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and regular neurology visits.

Her ten-year-old sister was luckier – she simply broke her arm and suffered other minor injuries. However, she continues to have nightmares and has clearly sustained emotional trauma.

The 16-year-old was not identified, however, it was noted that she was listed in critical condition for an extended period of time in the hospital after being airlifted there.

An investigation into the accident revealed that a mechanical malfunction caused the bucket to overturn.

Boy Falls From Roller Coaster

Not three days after the three girls were ejected from the Ferris wheel, another child was injured. A 3-year-old boy was riding a children’s roller coaster when he flew out of the car and fell 12 feet to the ground below. Although he was conscious when he was airlifted to the hospital, he was in critical condition due to the injuries his tiny body sustained.

All of these happened within the span of a week, showing how common theme park accidents really are.

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Amusement Park Lawsuits Are Often An Option

Whenever someone sustains an injury, not only are they in physical pain and often emotional shock, but they are also now in a situation where medical bills may be piling up Hospitalization, surgery, CT scans, MRIs, medications, physical therapy, and the thousands of other treatments that may be required do not come cheap.

This is why the law allows victims to file a personal injury lawsuit. This lawsuit, which is filed against the party whose negligence resulted in the accident, can provide the plaintiff with compensation for medical expenses, emotional trauma, and lost wages.

Negligent parties may include the theme park owners, managers, employees, maintenance companies, parts manufacturers, and even designers. In many cases, there can be more than one defendant.

How Is The Negligent Party Determined?

The best way to identify the negligent party is to contact a New York amusement park accident attorney who can investigate the accident, consult with professionals, and interview witnesses. Then, together, a legal plan can be devised.

Continue reading Tourist Injuries In New York: Locations & Types Of Accident.

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