Texas is hot in the summer, and for many people and families, there’s no better way to beat the heat than to visit one of our state’s many amusement parks. There are water parks, amusement parks, boardwalks, and other events that promise a way to forget the heat with sweet treats and deep fried everything, roller coasters, water slides, games, and other amusements to keep you busy. However, amusement parks aren’t without hazards, and without trained personnel and proper maintenance and repair, those rides can turn a summer of fun into a summer of serious injuries.
Here’s what you and your family should know about amusement park injuries, including statistics, what regulations exist to protect you, how injuries happen, and what you can do to get compensation if you or a loved one get hurt.
Amusement Park Injury Statistics
There are dozens of amusement parks in Texas, both large and small, that attract visitors from all around the state and all over the nation. Six Flags in Houston is a big draw, as is SeaWorld San Antonio; Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Kemah Boardwalk, Wonderland in Galveston, Splash Amarillo, and many more all get the attention of millions of visitors every year.
Data compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows that there were approximately 30,000 reported injuries linked to amusement park rides in 2016. There was one fatality that year, as well, when a waterslide in a popular park in Kansas caused the death of a 10-year-old boy, and three young girls were injured on a Ferris wheel in Tennessee that year, as well.
Reporting is often spotty and records are not well-kept, so the true figures aren’t entirely known. The results of a 2015 survey issued by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions found that over 1,500 people were hurt by rides that year, an increase of over 300 people over the previous year. However, this only includes “fixed-site” amusements where rides are permanent installations and does not include state fairs, carnivals, or other mobile types of amusements that are regularly moved from one location to another.
Amusement Park Injuries in Texas
States also keep track of amusement data, and each state regulates rides according to its own laws. The CPSC only has responsibility for non-fixed rides; otherwise, they must leave it to the states. In Texas, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) controls the regulation of rides and keeps injury data.
TDI rules require all amusement rides to carry insurance, be inspected at least once a year, and submit injury reports every three months. Some examples of injuries reported to the TDI in a 2013 report include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Lacerations (cuts) caused by ride restraints
- Go-cart impact injuries
- Back injury from falling off of an inner tube device
- Pinched fingers in rails or restraints
- Collision with another rider or park visitor
- Wrist sprain caused by a slip on an oil spill
- Cellulitis (infection) caused by a scrape on a slide
- Broken teeth and injured jaw from a raft that flipped over
Common Causes of Amusement Park Injuries
There are many ways that rides can cause injury to riders, or in some cases, even to bystanders nearby. Here are some of the most common failures:
- Operator failure. An improperly trained or overly fatigued ride operator can fail to operate the ride in a safe manner, such as by stopping the ride at a dangerous point, or not securing riders correctly by operating the required restraint gear.
- Mechanical failure. The state requires annual inspections, but rides are heavy machinery that take a lot of abuse day after day. If the operators aren’t performing necessary maintenance and repairs to manufacturer specifications, mechanical failure can be deadly.
- Dangerous ride design. Many rides carry some level of risk due to the nature of the type of amusement. Many rides involve combinations high speed, sudden acceleration or deceleration, and subjecting the body to intense forces due to the sheer physics of hills, turns, spins, and other maneuvers. This can cause brain hemorrhage, retinal damage, dizziness, headaches, loss of balance, unconsciousness, and more.
Some injuries may be caused by passenger failure. If someone doesn’t follow directions or acts in an unsafe manner, not only does this put that passenger at risk, it puts all the other riders at risk. Fortunately, the person or the park maybe be held responsible for any injuries that result.
Get Legal Help After an Injury
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury at an amusement park, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other expenses related to the accident. Consult with a personal injury attorney before you agree to a settlement that may be far below the actual cost of your injury or waive your rights to full compensation altogether.
The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP have been representing injured people and their families for decades. We’re here to help you protect your legal rights and pursue the compensation that you may be owed due to the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of an amusement park owner, operator, or other party that caused you harm. To talk about your situation with an experienced legal professional arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us today by phone, use our online contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.