Introduction to Amusement Park Injury Law
Amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals provide fun family activities during the summer, but they can also pose a serious threat. Every year, thousands of people are injured by amusement park rides, sometimes even resulting in death, paralysis, or serious brain damage. When a person is hurt at an amusement park, he or she has the right to sue those responsible. Depending on the individual case, this might be the amusement park itself, a maintenance person, ride operator, ride manufacturer, or any combination of these parties.
Ohio is home to some of the most famous amusement parks in the country. Cincinnati alone boasts King's Island, Coney Island, and The Beach Waterpark. Other well known destinations for thrill seekers include Cedar Point in Cleveland, Zoombezi Bay in Columbus, and Stricker's Grove in Ross. Along with the benefits of these destinations come the increased risk of injury for Ohio residents and visitors.
TYPES OF INJURIES FROM AMUSEMENT PARK RIDES
Amusement park rides can cause a variety of serious life-altering injuries, ranging from brain damage to blunt force trauma. When you hear "roller coaster injury," you probably imagine a ride derailing or a severe accident. However, even a normally functioning ride can cause injury. Fast-moving roller coasters such as those at King's Island or Cedar Point can exert too great a force of gravity, leading to serious brain and spinal cord injuries.
The sharp up-and-down or side-to-side motion of many roller coasters can cause the brain to bounce around the inside of the skull, resulting in brain swelling and serious damage. Children are especially susceptible to ride-related brain injury, since gravitational pulls affect their systems more severely. The G-forces of rides can also damage the spinal cord when a ride whips the body around in quick succession.
Other injuries can result from ride malfunction or part defects. Ride malfunctions don't happen every day, but when they do, they can be catastrophic. Ride malfunctions are often due to operator negligence or part failure. Victims of negligence in roller coaster accidents can potentially sue the theme park or the ride manufacturer for compensation in these cases.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR AMUSEMENT PARK INJURIES?
When someone is the victim of a ride malfunction or amusement park injury, it can be difficult to assign blame. While the theme park itself may sometimes be responsible, at other times it can be a different defendant or even multiple defendants. The courts assign responsibility for amusement park injuries by investigating the source of the injury, as well as looking at the type of liability the specific amusement park, fair, or carnival has based on Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations.
It may surprise riders to find out that the CPSC does not regulate major theme parks such as Kings Island and Cedar Point. Instead, the CPSC is responsible for enforcing safety codes and acceptable standards of practice for mobile amusement park rides, such as those found at the Ohio State Fair. Despite the CPSC not imposing safety regulations, victims of injuries at major theme parks still have a variety of legal protections.
ASSIGNING NEGLIGENCE IN AMUSEMENT PARK ACCIDENTS
The law obligates amusement parks to provide a reasonably safe environment for patrons. This includes properly maintaining rides, posting clear warning signs for those who should not ride (i.e, those with heart problems), training ride operators and employees, inspecting rides routinely, and providing correct instructions for riders. If the amusement park fails in any of these duties, the court can find the park guilty of negligence.
If the amusement park did everything in its power to provide a reasonably safe environment for patrons, but a ride malfunction caused an accident, the victim or victims may have a case against the manufacturer of the ride or the maker of the defective part. For example, if a design flaw in the lap bar of a ride makes it susceptible to unlatching during the ride, the court will hold the maker of the lap bar responsible.
Contact The Durst Law Firm if you have been involved in an amusement park injury.
If you have been involved in an amusement park injury, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you to understand who to make a claim against and to work with you to build your case. The Durst Law Firm will guide you through every stage of the case until justice is done. Alex Durst has twice been named a “Super Lawyer” and has extensive personal injury experience. Call us today at (513) 621-4999 for a free case evaluation.