In August of 2021, Rachel Hawes, a 44-year old resident of Michigan, sustained a major brain injury at the Cedar Point theme park. The accident happened while she was waiting in line to ride the Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster.
She was struck in the head with a piece of metal which became dislodged at some point. The L-shaped bracket was the size of a man's hand. In the aftermath of the accident, Rachel was admitted to intensive care.
This is just one of the many scary roller coaster accidents that happen every year. In 2016, around 30,000 people were admitted to the ER due to injuries sustained at amusement/theme parks. Most of the victims were kids.
David Miran, the chief of rides in Ohio’s Department of Agriculture, ordered an investigation. It was found that the bracket which is supposed to just hover over the tracks came in contact with it and became dislodged.
It was also found after investigation that more than half the bolts securing the brackets had also been dislodged.
Can You Sue a Theme Park?
There are several routes to go for a legal claim against an amusement park where you or someone you know has been injured. Though the exact claim would depend on the details and nature of the accident, below are the 2 commonest grounds on which one may sue a theme park.
- Accidents Caused by Negligence
If the amusement park injuries or accident were due to negligence or carelessness of one of the theme park employees, then a legal claim for negligence is most likely the best way to go. In a typical negligence claim, it’s necessary to prove that the defendant was not reasonably careful with their job. They must prove it was the defendant's carelessness that led the plaintiff to sustain injuries.
A theme park is accountable for its employees and their actions. Therefore, any negligence on part of the employee resulting in injuries falls directly on the park. Often negligence is the result of failure to do something or affirmatively doing something negative. For example:
- Not posting clear warning signs such as those discouraging people with heart problems or blood pressure issues to go on rides.
- Posting inadequate signs that don’t warn the riders properly about the possible risks involved
- Poorly trained ride operators
- Poor maintenance of equipment leading to unsafe conditions and ride malfunction
- Failure to regularly inspect the rides
- Failure to provide proper ride instructions to the patrons
- Poor handling and/or operating a ride
- Injuries Caused By Product Liability
Most theme park injuries happen due to defective rides. A lot of the time, the park fails to properly maintain and/or inspect different components of the ride. For instance, if a ride has a faulty design in terms of the lap bar, it may cause the handle to unlatch causing the patron to fall on the ground mid-ride.
If the injury happens due to a faulty design or structural defect, then it may give rise to a product liability claim. Such a claim would happen against the maker of the ride or the manufacturer of the defective part.
In a roller coaster lawsuit involving Product Liability Claims, the plaintiff has to prove that the part, equipment, or design was defective which directly caused the injury/death of the victim.
Amusement Park Injury Liability
A premises liability claim can be filed if the operators failed to take ordinary care that involves the removal of on-property hazards. Ordinary care entails regular maintenance of rides and ensuring proper security at all times.
Accidents happening due to slippery sidewalks, drowning, maintenance zones, dangerous constructions, and falling objects can all count towards premises liability. A victim might be entitled to compensation if he/she was harmed due to a hazard that was the property of the theme park.
To establish a claim, a theme park accident lawyer must prove that the owners/operators did not exercise ordinary care. They must prove failure to exercise proper security measures in place and/or failure to fix dangerous conditions.
Common Theme Park / Amusement Park Accidents
Out of all accidents that occur in amusement/theme parks, injuries related to neck and head are the most common ones.
Other common amusement park injuries are:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Slip and falls on sidewalks
- Torn ligaments
- Severed limbs
- Drowning in poorly fenced or unsupervised pools/ponds
- Broken bones
- Brain aneurysm and other brain-related injuries
Contacting a Theme Park Accident Lawyer (like Burnes Libman)
Around 375 million people go to theme parks annually in the US. With such heavy traffic every year, one would expect top-notch safety in such places to keep the patrons safe. But, many states don’t even have proper safety regulations around rides in theme parks.
Regardless of the regulations, it’s the responsibility of amusement park owners, operators, and ride manufacturers to ensure a safe environment and safe rides that don’t harm people. If someone you love has been injured in a theme park, you should file a lawsuit against the liable parties.
At Burnes Libman, our attorneys will represent you by putting together a winning lawsuit. Our theme park injury lawyer will see to it that you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve for the suffering you had to bear due to the accident.
Contact us today for a free consultation.
For information on theme park injuries, visit our resource page at www.burneslibman.com/theme-park-accident-lawyer. Call us today at (312) 726-6500 for a free consultation.