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Liability After an Amusement Park Accident

amusement park accident

Roller coasters, funnel cakes, and lots of laughter bring many families to amusement parks every summer. And you assume you don’t need to worry about anything. Families can have fun and stay safe. Every year families gather to go to water parks and amusement parks during the summer months all over the country. More thrilling rides attracts visitors to enter the parks with excitement and brings them back every year. Unfortunately, amusement parks can bring danger. If the rides at the parks are not maintained, they are no longer safe to ride for any age group. In fact, going on those rides could become a life-threatening event.

According to International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, approximately 375 million people visit a theme park each year in North America.  In a study done by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 92,885 children under age 18 were treated to emergency rooms due to injuries caused by rides at amusement parks. This averages to 4,423 injured per year on rides. The study also concluded that most of the injuries were head injuries due to hitting a hard floor.

Common injuries from a ride include head, neck and back injuries. Roller coasters that go in loops, backwards and sharp turns can create stress on a body which may result in the neck and back injury.

Injuries range from broken bones and concussion due to

  • Amputation
  • Electrocution
  • Paraplegia
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Wrongful death

What to Do After an Amusement Park Accident

Do these few things before contacting an attorney. First, right after the accident, whether the injury appears minor or major, seek proper medical attention. Do not delay any medical needs. After the injury, you should report the injury to an amusement park employee right away. Make sure the employee or manager completes an accident report. Lastly, you should obtain a copy of the report.

Additionally, at this time, collect all evidence of the accident. Evidence should be documented, including which include the injury, the loss, lost wages and missed opportunity of the one injured. Keep all paperwork from the doctors, hospital visits and medical bills safe. Preparing the documents right away, even before contacting an attorney helps prepare for the case.

Amusement Park Accident Liability

Depending on the injury, you will need to prove that the amusement park is liable for the injury that took place. Some examples that may show liability include:

  • negligence,
  • product liability,
  • premises liability or
  • wrongful death.

Plaintiffs must link their harm to the defendant’s standard of care. The standard of care must show the that the amusement park was liabile for the safety of the visitor as the visitors rode on the rides.

Examples of Liability

Negligence claims can include showing that the amusement park failed to ensure the safety of the rider by not maintaining the rides or meeting all the codes. You can also prove that the park did not ensure or give their employees proper training to take proper precautions before starting the ride.

In a product liability case, the law expects manufacturer to create central standard of care. This ensures the safety of the product and maintains a defect-free product. You must

  • prove that there was a defective problem with the ride.
  • show that the  manufacturer could prevent the problem by making safety changes.
  • show that if the manufacturer built the ride in a safer way, they could avoid the defect in the ride.

For a premises liability cases, the amusement park must create safety for the visitors. The amusement park must ensure the park lay out takes safety into account. Under premises liability law, the owner of the possession of the property has a duty to maintain the property in a safe condition. Additionally, they must show reasonable care for the safety of a visitor. Otherwise, a court may hold the owner of the property liable for the injury of a visitor that occurs on tier property.

Wrongful death can be filed if a family loses a loved one in an unfortunate event at the park. Cases have been awarded over one million in damages.

Quiet Settlements

Amusement park verdicts settlements can go up to $2 million. For serious cases the settlement is greater, such as the 10-year-old boy who died on a waterslide in Schlitterbahn water park. According to the Widen University Commonwealth Law school, if the liability is proved in the Schlitterbahn case, the damages should be in the multi-million-dollar range.

A quiet settlement avoids public and media attention. Therefore, amusement parks often favor settlements to avoid the admission of liability and keeps them from going lengthy and expensive trails.

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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