Thrill-seekers love roller coasters and water slides because of their gravity-defying drops and turns, but they go on these rides with the expectation that, however scary it might be, the ride is actually safe. When something goes wrong, and a visitor is injured, park attorneys may quickly swoop in to offer a settlement before the incident is publicized. While the offer may be tempting, it is probably nowhere near the actual value of your claim. If you or your child is hurt at an amusement park, waterpark, carnival, or fair, make your first call be a call to the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop.
We Don’t Know Just How Dangerous Amusement Parks Are
When a highly publicized incident happens—such as the horrific decapitation of a 10-year-old boy at a Kansas waterpark or the 2017 ride-related death at the Ohio State Fair—everyone’s attention turns to the safety of theme park and carnival rides for a little while, but the issue is soon forgotten, and people continue to buy tickets and visit parks. The reality is that just how many people are injured each year is unknown. Data on injuries is self-reported by fixed-site amusement parks like Omaha’s Fun-Plex and isn’t collected at all on temporary, traveling parks. Officially, there were 1,171 ride-related injuries in amusement parks in 2017. However, according to CNN, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there were over 30,000 emergency department visits due to park ride incidents in 2016 alone, and that number is likely an underestimate.
Injuries Don’t Just Happen on Rides
While a highly dramatic incident on a roller coaster, water slide, or tilt-a-whirl gets people’s attention, ride malfunctions are not the only way you can be seriously injured at an amusement park or county fair. Like any other business that invites guests onto its property, park owners have a duty to maintain a safe environment and to fix any potential hazards as soon as they are aware of them. Theme park visitors may be injured or killed in any of the following ways:
- Ride malfunction. If a ride is not inspected and repaired on a regular basis, a malfunction can occur at any time, throwing riders off or damaging limbs.
- Improper assembly. Carnivals and fairs have temporary rides that are taken down, moved, and assembled over and over. Any irregularity in assembly can lead to a dangerous malfunction.
- Ride accident. When a ride operator fails to pay attention to the ride or makes a mistake in its operation, it can cause an accident that injures riders.
- Slip and fall. Ice, spilled liquid, garbage, and food waste can produce slippery surfaces that may not even be visible to park guests. Janitorial staff should be vigilant about keeping parks free of these hazards.
- Trip and fall. Cracked pavement, uneven ground, cords and wires, and other hazards can cause a theme park patron to trip and fall. The park should be inspected for trip hazards regularly.
- Fall from height or on stairs. Loose and missing handrails, broken or uneven stairs, and dangerous areas that are not barricaded from visitors can lead to deadly falls on stairs or from high platforms.
- Negligent security. The park operator must provide safe, well-lit parking lots and other isolated areas to protect patrons from violent criminals. If a park guest is attacked on the premises, the park may be held responsible.
Whatever the cause of your amusement park or carnival accident, it is worth talking to the premises liability legal team at Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop for an evaluation of your claim.
Don’t Settle for Less Than You Deserve
If you suffer an injury while visiting a theme park or state fair, you may need onsite medical care. You will likely be approached by a manager or attorney about your intentions right away. While it’s important that you seek medical care immediately, you do not have to agree to anything park employees present to you. If they suspect they may be held accountable for your injury, they will likely want you to settle quickly on their terms. Don’t do it! Instead, contact Attorney Matt Lathrop as soon as possible. Our team will give you the time, attention, and fearless work ethic your claim deserves. Fill out the contact form on this page or call to get in touch with us today.