Safety of Amusement Park Rides Again Takes the Spotlight

It is an unfortunate fact that it sometimes takes a tragedy to remind us of the importance of safety standards, and the liability that can occur when business owners do not make their premises safe for visitors. There are few areas that present as many potential dangers as an amusement park, and while we think of amusement parks as generally safe, there has been a stark reminder that this should not be taken for granted.

Recent Deaths at Amusement Park

The incident happened in Australia, and although their laws are different from ours, much can still be learned from the recent tragedy. Just days ago, four people on a water ride at a fixed amusement park called Dreamworld were killed in the middle of the ride. Much like many rides here in America, visitors sat in circular “rafts” that sat in a moat of water, and tracked along conveyer belts.

From what is currently known, it appears that the rafts encountered a malfunction riding the track below. The riders were ejected from the raft, and were either killed upon being thrown out of the raft, or were pinned underneath the raft and possibly, under the water.

The Australian accident is just the most recent in August, a spate of amusement park injuries made the news. A 10-year-old boy was killed in a Kansas water park while on a slide. A 6-year-old sustained a brain injury at a Tennessee fair. There have unfortunately been many others.

Little and Sporadic Regulation

Fixed amusement parks, such as Disney or Universal or Six Flags, are not under any federal regulation or oversight, the way local travelling carnivals are. Congress has allowed them to be regulated by the state in which they reside.

The result can be differing safety standards. Different agencies in different states may have oversight authority, and the level of oversight can differ.

As a result, little data is available on injuries at amusement parks. The National Safety Council reports that in 2014, 1,146 people sustained injuries related to rides at parks. The data only reflects injuries which occurred while on, or caused by, rides. They do not account for other injuries, such as falls, drownings, or other accidents that happen on park property, but are not related to a ride.

Law Still Provides Remedies

It is vital to remember that the standard of negligence applies to amusement park operators. Even where there is minimal to no state oversight, or even where a park is in full compliance with state safety regulations, a park operator can still be liable for negligence.

The question is often whether an injury or ride malfunction is foreseeable, or whether it was preventable. If reasonable care could have or should have been taken, a park can be liable for injuries caused to its visitors, regardless of what state regulations may say.

If you are injured in an amusement park or carnival, or on any other premises, Contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your case.