When you go to an amusement park, you expect a fun-filled day of rides, food and games. For approximately 1,500 people nationwide in 2015, this wasn’t the case. They left the grounds with injuries, some minor, some severe, a small few were fatal. The occurrence of these tragic circumstances, according to a study released every year by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), spiked to its highest rate in 2015 than it has in seven years.
If you or a loved one has sustained any type of injury in an Austin amusement park accident due to their negligence, then you deserve to be paid for all damages due to premises liability. The Austin personal injury attorneys at Briggle & Polan, PLLC are prepared to handle your claim and fight on your behalf for fair compensation.
Amusement Park Accident Statistics
The injury rate depends greatly on your point of measurement; there were 4.8 injuries per million attendees, and 0.8 injuries per million riders. The accuracy of the reports released by the IAAPA may be slightly affected by amusement park participation; 413 parks were invited to participate in the study, but only 84 provided attendance and rider data. This is still enough to give an accurate estimate of total injuries, as participating parks provided 71 percent of total ridership data throughout the U.S.
It’s estimated that about 2-3 people die every year at an amusement park on average. One such accident at a waterpark in Kansas has stirred much conversation about whether theme park rides are safe, whether the employees operating them are competent enough, and whether proper warning is given to riders of potential dangers.
Texas Amusement Park Ride Regulations
The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) handled all amusement park regulations until 1981, when Congress revoked that authority and left it up to the states to decide how they would conduct their inspections and regulate rides. The CPSC does still report on mobile and inflatable rides, such as bounce houses, but state departments handle all fixed-site rides. In Texas, the Department of Insurance (TDI) is in charge of regulating this.
The TDI requires an injury be reported when it necessitates medical treatment administered by a professional. This does not include one-time treatment of minor scrapes, bumps, or bruises. All amusement park ride operators are required to disclose this in a quarterly injury report should one of these occur. All individual rides, and not just the park in general, must have liability insurance as well.
Texas defines two different types of rides:
- Class A, which is any ride with a fixed location and designed for use by children 12 years of age and younger. Class A must have not less than $100,000 bodily injury and $50,000 property damage per occurrence with a $300,000 annual aggregate or $150,000 per occurrence single limit with a $300,000 annual aggregate.
- Class B is any other type. Class B requires $1,000,000 bodily injury and $500,000 property damage per occurrence or $1,500,000 per occurrence combined single limit.
Common Causes of Amusement Park Injuries
Most injuries are nothing worse than a bad cut, but a few can be severe enough to require weeks or even multiple months’ worth of recovery. The common reasons for an injury are:
- Mechanical failure – The lap bar on a roller coaster could malfunction, or the harness could come undone. This failure could be a result of a manufacturing error or the park not maintaining the ride adequately.
- Improper operation – They could incorrectly latch a seatbelt or stop it too suddenly.
- Passenger misuse – Many times a park will do everything it should, such as provide warnings about the ride and ensure all safety precautions are followed, but if a rider stands up or unlatches their own harness, the park likely won’t be responsible.
- Inherent nature of the ride – Some park goers just shouldn’t ride a few of the attractions. Whether it’s high speed, twists and turns or flashing lights, the ride itself can be unsafe for a lot of people. Seizures, concussions and whiplash have been known to happen even if rider and operator make no mistakes.
Head and neck injuries are by far the most common types at an amusement park, as well as broken bones, torn ligaments, and even drowning deaths. Austin water park injuries can happen, particularly in wave pools or lazy rivers.
The theme park has an obligation to its customers to provide a safe and secure environment on all of their rides, as well as enforce any height or weight restrictions a particular ride might have. The assumption of risk and disclaimers on the back of a ticket only cover so much.
Our Texas Amusement Park Accident Lawyers offer Free Consultations
If you or a loved one has been injured or worse in a Texas amusement park accident due to their negligence, call Briggle & Polan, PLLC for your free consultation. Our experienced attorneys will ensure compensation for any medical expenses, lost wages and loss of consortium.