Roller Coaster Accident Injuries and Amusement Park Safety
By FindLaw Staff | Legally reviewed by Robert Rafii, Esq. | Last reviewed November 16, 2022
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Millions of people visit amusement parks and ride roller coasters without incidents; however, each year thousands are injured during such visits. Tragically, some visitors never leave an amusement park or water park alive.
This article explains the various hazards and types of injuries that may occur on roller coasters and other amusement park rides, with a summary of your legal rights. See FindLaw's Torts and Personal Injuries section for additional articles and resources.
Types of Roller Coaster Accidents and Amusement Parks Injuries
Amusement park injuries can result from roller coasters accidents, riders being stuck on rides like Ferris wheels, and swinging and spinning rides that somehow malfunction. In addition, people can be injured on water rides, water slides, in wave pools, and 'lazy river' rides using inflatable devices.
One study for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that in the six year period from 1997 to 2003, an estimated 2,800 to 4,300 non-occupational emergency-room-treated injuries occurred on mobile amusement rides. The CPSC also reported 55 deaths associated with both fixed-site and mobile amusement rides from 1987 to 2001.
Serious injuries associated with amusement parks can include:
- Deadly falls;
- Carotid artery dissection and stroke (tears to the major artery in the neck);
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Brain aneurysms;
- Inflatable ride injuries;
- Broken bones and torn ligaments; and
- Emotional injuries.
Roller Coaster Accident Dangers and Amusement Park Risks
Like any business, amusement parks have the potential to operate defective equipment. Doors, lap bars, and shoulder harnesses restraining riders can malfunction. See Defects in Manufacturing and Defects and Design for more information.
Employees operating amusement park rides and working at water parks can also become distracted from performing their assigned job duties, fail to safely operate a ride, fail to perform routine safety checks, fail to properly supervise colleagues responsible for ride safety, or fail to use a reasonable standard of care that should be used on the job.
Head, neck, and back injuries are reportedly the most commonly reported amusement park injuries. Amusement park goers can also suffer serious go-kart and bumper-car injuries involving crashes with other riders.
Water parks and amusement parks with water rides also increase risks for water slide injuries, wave pool drowning deaths, and 'lazy river' injuries experienced by riders traveling on inner tubes or other inflatable devices.
Some states like Florida do not require theme parks to report injuries unless they involve fatalities, or unless an injured rider is immediately hospitalized for at least 24 hours for more than just observation by medical personnel.
Medical Treatment and Roller Coaster Accidents and Amusement Park Injuries
Long-term treatment and physical therapy for amusement park ride and water park injury victims may be an important part of any recovery. Dealing with radical life changes, including new limitations on mobility, brain injury, paralysis, limb amputation, scarring or disfigurement may also be part of any recovery for amusement park ride and water park injury victims.
Physical injury is only one aspect of amusement park-related trauma. The mental traumas that ride victims can experience may be just as great, if not greater, than any physical harm they suffer. Such trauma or disability may requirement extended, even lifelong treatment.
Roller Coaster Accidents, Amusement Park Injuries and Water Park Dangers: Your Legal Rights
While some states regulate amusement parks rides, there is still no federal law on amusement park safety. Though the federal The Consumer Product Safety Act touches upon the safety of portable carnival rides and other mobile attractions, it is largely city and state governments that directly regulate park rides.
If you or a loved one were injured at an amusement park, carnival ride, or water park, you may be entitled to compensation for current and future expenses, as well as special legal damages, also known as punitive damages.
Some of the legal factors that an attorney can review with you include:
- Whether you and your loved ones may be entitled to compensation for current and future medical and treatment expenses;
- If you worked at an amusement park or water park when you were injured, whether you and your loved ones can recover lost wages from work, and other out-of-pocket expenses stemming from any injuries; and
- Whether amusement park and water park injuries may entitle you and your loved ones to recover damages for pain and suffering
See FindLaw's Damage Estimate Worksheet to calculate the damages for your injuries.
Were You Injured on a Roller Coaster? An Injury Attorney Can Help
If you've been injured at an amusement park -- whether it's on a rollercoaster, water slide, or something else -- you should consider your legal options. These types of cases can be complicated, particularly when you consider all of the parties involved and questions over whether the plaintiff followed the rules. Don't delay; contact an experienced injury attorney today.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.