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Amusement Park Accidents are Anything but Amusing

May 25, 2022

Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or just seeking a family-friendly day out, Southern California is home to many beloved amusement and theme parks with just about everything for the young and the young at heart.

Guests enjoy an alternative universe that puts them in the center of all the action. For the moment, it’s easy to forget about the technology behind the illusions. Of course, operators of these venues are always looking to take thrills to the next level with faster, steeper, scarier, taller, mind-blowing rides.

There is much appeal to being transported to magical places or tuning everything out by screaming your head off on a roller coaster. Still, a day of family fun and thrills can instantly turn into real-life horror.

A Day of Fun and Excitement Can Result in Tragedy

Sadly, a 14-year-old boy slipped out of his seat and fell to his death while riding the ‘Orlando Free-Fall’ at ICON Park in Florida. According to the park, the ride drops amusement park visitors nearly 400 feet at speeds reaching more than 75 mph.

The harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped. Yet towering at 6’5″ tall and weighing 340 pounds, questions about whether the teenager was too large to be allowed on the ride and whether he was properly secured in his seat.

The ride’s operation and maintenance manual clearly indicated that the maximum passenger weight was approximately 287 pounds. It warned ride operators to make sure the guests fit within the seat’s contours and that the bracket fits properly.

When Grief Turns to Action

The boy’s distraught mother called her son her personal teddy bear and a gentle giant. “You didn’t want to miss a dollar, but you stripped me of my son. It’s disgusting,” the mother expressed after her son was ejected from the ride.

The victim’s parents journeyed through their grief, turning it into legal action. Among the defendants, a wrongful death lawsuit named ICON Park and Slingshot, the ride’s owner, Keator Construction, and the ride’s manufacturers. The litigation alleges negligence.

Among the many claims included in the Complaint are:

  • failing to provide a safe amusement park ride for its customers;
  • negligently failing to install and utilize adequate restraint systems on the Free Fall ride; and
  • failing to train their employees to check to ensure that riders are properly secured in the Free Fall.

Have Fun, But Be Careful

Riders must exercise caution and follow the rules. However, many mishaps are often caused by defective machinery or ride operators who do not take proper precautions or follow safety protocols.

While the Florida tragedy is one of the most recent amusement park accidents to be splashed across national headlines, the personal injury attorneys at Owen, Patterson & Owen recognize that this is not an isolated event. In fact, over the course of the past couple of years, the news cycles have seen many stories, including:

  • A woman perishes after falling from a rollercoaster.
  • The life of a six-year-old boy is lost during a carnival accident.
  • A three-year-old girl succumbs to fatal head injuries at an amusement park.
  • A boy’s untimely death stems from a Ferris wheel ride gone terribly wrong.
  • A miniature train derails, killing a 57-year-old woman and paralyzing a four-year-old girl.

These are just some of the horrific incidents seared into the memories of loved ones.

Accidents Are Not All That Common, But They Still Occur at An Alarming Rate

Amusement Park injuries range from minor scrapes and bruises to more severe varieties like fractures, head trauma, and spinal cord damage. According to the North America Fixed-Site Amusement Ride Injury Survey, 2020 Update, 1,294 ride-related injuries were estimated to have occurred at “fixed-site” amusement and theme parks in 2019. This does not include the multitude of injuries sustained from rides at mobile fairs and portable carnivals.

Many have called for better injury surveillance and more consistent, uniform enforcement of safety standards. There is the uncomfortable assumption of risk whenever someone visits the abundance of attractions in Southern California until then.

All the same, amusement parks have a duty of care to their patrons. If they fail in their solemn obligation to protect ride goers, an experienced personal injury law firm can help.

Enjoy Your Summer but Be Mindful of Danger

While we do not doubt that safety is a paramount concern for attractions, our hard-won experience honed since 1977 has shown us that something can still go wrong.

The owners of the attraction, the ride’s operators, and manufacturers all share a responsibility to ensure patrons’ safety. When there is a breach in this trust and an injury results, our firm can help you or your loved one get justice.

There are many twists and turns on rides, but safety should be constant. When a day of family fun and thrill-seeking results in bodily harm, our firm can hold the attraction, ride operators, and/or manufacturers accountable.

At OPO, our goal is to get full compensation for our clients injured in amusement park accidents. This is a ride we will take with you. Contact us at 888-OPO-WINS or info@opolaw.com.

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