With Labor Day – the unofficial end to summer festivities – quickly approaching, people will be flocking to the final fairs, festivals and carnivals of the season in a sort of last-call for warm-weather fun. While the amusement rides are an exhilarating addition to the vendor- and food-filled booths popular at carnivals, they can also be a source of personal injury claims.
About 2,500 non-occupational injuries blamed on mobile amusement rides were treated in emergency rooms across the Unites States in 2004, according to the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, commonly referred to as OABA. And while fatalities from mobile amusement rides are few and far between, they do happen.
The OABA reports that between the years of 1987 and 2005 11 people died as a result of a personal injury suffered on a mobile amusement park ride. Just this month, a 45-year-old man died when he was struck by a coaster at Cedar Point.
Just last month, 12 people – some of whom were believed to be children – suffered injuries while on a swinging ride known as the Jitterbug when it tipped over at a Bowling Green, Kentucky, amusement park.
And earlier this summer, a 10-year-old girl was reportedly taken to a hospital after being found unconscious on a roller coaster at a Six Flags theme park in Southern California. In an unrelated roller coaster accident, a couple were rushed to the hospital for what the media called “traumatic injuries” suffered on another roller coaster in California.
Even our local Kennywood Park has not been immune from accidents. In 1995, 35 people were injured after a roller coaster train struck another that was being loaded with passengers.
Amusement park accidents happen often enough that there is even a Facebook page devoted to the matter – where short stories and photos are posted of traumatic injuries (and other, less serious ones, too) folks suffered during their time at a festival, carnival or amusement park.
The important questions many people who have suffered a personal injury on a roller coaster or other ride ask themselves are usually: Whose is liable for my injury, and do I have a legal claim?
The answer is: It depends.
In some cases, the basis for a lawsuit would hinge on whether either negligence or product liability issues came into play.
When it comes to personal injury claims dealing with negligence, at issue is whether the accident was the result of the carelessness or inattention of either the amusement park/carnival/festival or the ride operator it employed to run it.
A business or ride operator may be liable if:
- The company did not post adequate warning signs (i.e.: a warning about people with heart conditions riding a particular ride)
- The company failed to adequately train its ride operators
- If the ride operator improperly run the ride
Also at issue in personal injury suits related to amusement park rides is product liability. You may have a claim if your injury was the result of a product liability issue such as defective equipment or structural problems.
But it should be noted: You can’t sue for your own poor decisions.
The OABA reports that the majority of amusement park ride injuries were the result of people making imprudent decisions: intentionally rocking the ride, standing up on a ride, or undoing a safety harness.
In these instances, because there was no mechanical failure and because your injury was not caused by the carelessness of a ride operator, you alone would be liable.
But if there is any question, you should always call an experienced personal injury attorney who understands both negligence and product liability.
If you were seriously injured, or someone you know and love suffered a serious personal injury or died in an amusement park accident you believe was caused by negligence or a defective product, call the Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys at Pribanic & Pribanic today to schedule a free initial consultation at 412-672-5444 or toll free at 800-392-4529.