Amusement parks, water parks, and carnivals attract millions of visitors each year. Most of these visits go as planned, but when an unexpected accident occurs, the consequences can be devastating.
If you or a loved one has suffered an amusement park injury, the most important thing you can do is contact a qualified lawyer. An attorney with experience in amusement park lawsuits will use their team of experts to prevent evidence from being lost, altered, or destroyed.
Bartimus Frickleton Robertson Rader is Kansas City’s trusted name in personal injury law. Our attorneys deliver answers, accountability, and justice for victims of catastrophic accidents in Kansas City.
This blog will discuss everything you should know about amusement park accidents and the steps to take if the unthinkable happens.
Causes of amusement park injuries
One of the primary reasons for amusement park accidents is negligence. Equipment design, operation, or maintenance negligence can cause significant harm to patrons.
Roller coasters and water park rides are extremely complex pieces of equipment. Unfortunately, park owners don’t always consider safety during the design process. Negligence in design can include (but is not limited to):
- Inadequate restraints (lap bars, seatbelts, harnesses, etc.)
- Lack of signage to guide riders on instructions, height restrictions, or other crucial warnings
- Poor structural integrity that causes supports to collapse, bolts to shear, or damage to other components
Even if a qualified engineer designs a safe ride, lawsuits can still occur based on the ride’s operation. Ride operators need adequate training on safety protocols, emergency procedures, and proper operation. Negligent operation can include (but is not limited to):
- Inadequate training
- Failure to enforce safety regulations
- Inattentiveness of ride operators
- Inadequate staffing
Amusement park rides require proper maintenance and regular inspections to ensure the tracks, wheels, breaks, and safety restraints operate correctly. Negligence in the maintenance of park equipment can include the following:
- Insufficient inspection schedules
- Failure to fix known issues
- Inadequate record keeping of maintenance issues
- Failure to follow the recommendations and maintenance guidelines of the roller coaster manufacturer
Not every amusement park injury is due to negligence. When products malfunction, it can put riders at serious safety risks. Product failures can include:
- Mechanical malfunctions in the brakes, motors, gears, or hydraulics
- Malfunctions in ride restraints, including seat belts, lap bars, and harnesses
- Electrical failures, including short circuits, faulty wiring, and power surges
- Malfunctions in the ride vehicle (wheels, axels, and breaking mechanisms)
- Control system failures resulting in inaccurate sensor reading, improper timing, or other ride errors
Amusement park injuries
Unfortunately, no single agency is responsible for collecting data on amusement park injuries, and many go unreported. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) estimates that 1,299 ride-related injuries occurred in 2019 alone. (Note that this number only considers fixed-park rides, not traveling carnivals.)
Many injuries can result from amusement park accidents, but some of the most severe include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries
Unfortunately, children are often the victims of these life-altering incidents. Children are some of the most vulnerable amusement park visitors and are more susceptible to dangerous conditions. According to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), most injuries occur to children between ages 10 and 14, followed by children between the ages of 15 and 19.
When children are involved in these cases, it’s essential that your amusement park accident attorney in Kansas City takes special care to ensure their protection through all phases of the legal process. A qualified attorney will work with the child’s treating doctors and hire pediatric experts to ensure knowledge of their injuries and how they will impact the child as they grow.
Impact of amusement park accidents on mental health
Amusement park injuries affect more than just physical function. The psychological impact of witnessing or being involved in a catastrophic amusement park accident can significantly impact a child’s mental health and well-being.
Emotional trauma from amusement park accidents can include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Other forms of psychological distress
A qualified amusement park accident attorney in Kansas City will consult or hire a child psychologist to identify any psychological harm resulting from the accident. This psychological damage can be substantial and long-lasting, making it an essential part of your case.
Who is responsible for amusement park injuries?
Multiple parties could be considered liable for amusement park accidents based on how the injury occurred. This can include the following entities or individuals.
1. The owner of the property
The person or entity that owns the amusement park is responsible for maintaining the safety of the premises. If an injury occurred due to improper maintenance, inadequate training or staff supervision, violation of regulatory requirements, or other negligence of the park operator, they could be partly (or fully) responsible.
2. The manufacturer of the ride
The manufacturer may be responsible if the injury resulted from a ride malfunction or defect. This can include a manufacturing defect, a poor design, a failure to provide warnings and instructions, or failing to perform adequate safety testing.
3. The Contractor
A contractor may be responsible for negligence in a ride’s construction, maintenance, or operation. This can include improper installation, poor maintenance practices, failure to adhere to industry safety standards, or negligent operation of the ride.
What to do if an injury occurs
If an injury happens, it’s critical to find a theme park accident attorney in Kansas City with experience in these lawsuits. Park injuries are highly complex cases that require a team of experts to preserve evidence, access surveillance video footage, inspect the ride and premises, and ultimately determine who should be held responsible.
Finding an amusement park injury lawyer is the most important thing to do if a significant injury occurs. If possible, we also recommend that you take the following steps:
- Notify the amusement park so they can create an accident report to confirm the date and time of the incident
- Photograph and video the area where the injury occurred
- Collect names and contact information from any eyewitnesses
Saying safe at amusement parks
When amusement parks operate safely, they are a great place to visit. However, when amusement park owners put profits ahead of people and fail to fix dangerous conditions, it can end in dire results.
When you visit an amusement park, there are a few things you can do to ensure your safety.
1. Never assume that a ride is safe.
If you feel uncomfortable or sense danger, it’s best to avoid the ride. If you see something that doesn’t look right (a crack in a support beam, a rusted part, or anything that seems off) report it to the staff and park operator immediately.
2. Be aware of the ride requirements.
Rides have height and weight requirements for a reason. The ride is not safe for your child if they do not meet those requirements.
3. If you see something, say something.
If you notice anything that appears unsafe, report it to management as soon as possible. This can include anything from a distracted operator to an improperly fastened seat belt. Speaking up about these safety concerns can help protect yourself and countless other park patrons.
4. Follow all ride instructions.
It’s important to comply with all amusement park rules and regulations. Listen carefully to ride instructions and adhere to all safety guidelines on the posted signage.
Overall, your chance of being seriously injured at an amusement park is low. However, remaining vigilant about your surroundings and following all park protocols will help to ensure your safety.
Contact Bartimus Frickleton Robertson Rader for a trusted amusement park accident attorney in Kansas City
The lawyers at Bartimus Frickleton Robertson Rader understand that your case is your only case. When we agree to represent a client or a family after an amusement park accident, we agree to devote the time, resources, and expertise necessary for the best possible result.
If you or a loved one were injured at an amusement park in Missouri or Kansas, don’t navigate the process on your own. Contact our team of amusement park accident attorneys for a consultation at no cost.
The above is not intended to be legal advice. Each individual case is different and must be analyzed on its own set of facts and circumstances. If you believe you may have a case, it is critically important that you timely contact a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.