Staying Safe at Amusement Parks and State Fairs
Summer isn’t just a popular time of year for ice cream and swimming; nearly all of the amusement parks in the United States see a spike in ticket sales every summer. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, nearly 375 million Americans visit an amusement park each year.
Also each year, according to CNN, thousands of people are injured or killed at amusement parks. While this number is only a small percentage of the total visiting these parks, it still raises concern. Amusement parks are relatively safe, but accidents, both at the fault of the park and the individual, do happen.
In the last couple of years, we’ve seen multiple fatalities and injuries at amusement parks and state fairs, from the tragedy at the Ohio State Fair last month to the fatality at the St. Thomas Church fair here in El Paso last year. However, your chances of being injured on a ride at a fixed-site amusement park are about one in 16 million. Still, there are many things we can do to be safe.
How You Can Stay Safe
There are several ways you can protect yourself while at an amusement park. For example, when on rides, be sure to follow the procedures the announcer gives you. This can include keeping your hands in the ride at all times, buckling up, and keeping the safety bar down. Other tips include:
- Keeping personal items accounted for while on rides. Were a backpack or purse to fall off on a roller coaster during the ride, it could cause a serious accident.
- Take breaks between intense roller coasters. High-speed roller coasters can have adverse effects on your body, especially when you ride them back to back.
- Prepare for motion sickness.
- Be aware of sudden onset dizziness, severe headaches, and nausea and vomiting. This could be a sign of something more seriously wrong, especially in children.
- Have an emergency escape plan and another for if you and your family get separated.
Being proactive can help you avoid serious injuries and accidents from happening while you’re at an amusement park.
What Do the Parks Do?
Amusement parks are required by law to enforce safety procedures and precautions in order to keep park goers safe. This can include having security, evacuation procedures, and checking bags and purses at the entrances for weapons and other prohibited items. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, along with other national organizations, like OSHA, have specific safety requirements for amusement parks they must follow.
- Ride Safety- Every roller coaster, teacup ride, train, plane, and automobile, every structure, and every show at an amusement park must be inspected, tested, and engineered for safety.
- Employee Safety- Every employee in the amusement park will be trained in operating rides, handling emergency situations, and in amusement park etiquette.
- Disaster and Evacuation- Amusement parks, especially larger ones, are expected to have plans for natural disasters, emergency situations, and evacuations. This helps to make these situations go more smoothly and result in fewer deaths and injuries.
Wrongful Death at an Amusement Park
Oftentimes, when a wrongful death happens at the fault of an amusement park and its employees, they are liable and must compensate you. This is a tricky legal process, but you have a few options if you find yourself in a situation like this. There are three main things you can base your claim on; negligence, product liability, and premise liability.
- Negligence- Negligence can occur when a ride operator or other park employee doesn’t do their part to ensure safety, minimize risk, and follow procedures resulting in an accident, injury, or death.
- Product Liability- Roller coasters and other attractions must be built according to certain safety standards to minimize the risks for accidents. They must also be tested, inspected, and repaired regularly. If they aren’t, the park can be held liable for any deaths or injuries that occur because of it.
- Premise Liability- When an amusement park is established, there are also certain requirements they must meet in terms of location, construction management, and regular ground maintenance.
The Legal Process
When suing for wrongful death, there are certain steps you must take.
- If a loved one died as a result of an injury at an amusement park, you may be eligible for compensation for your loss. The first thing you will need to do is determine that it was the amusement park’s fault. Amusement parks have certain defenses that can protect them against lawsuits, such as the understood risk communicated about going to amusement parks and disclaimers written out on amusement park tickets, brochures, and websites. You will need to prove that the wrongful death was not an understood risk, not at the fault of the deceased, and not disclaimed in a warning label.
- You will need to gather all of your legal documents; hospital records and bills, insurance claims, and other documents that can help you support your claim against the amusement park.
- Your best bet for winning a case is to work with a wrongful death lawyer. A lawyer will represent you in court and help you build an effective case against the amusement park, earning you the compensation you deserve from the incident while also bringing attention to possible negligence or faulty equipment.
Accidents at amusement parks can be few and far between, but they do still happen. If a loved one has died because of an amusement park accident, a wrongful death attorney can help you make your case.
Wrongful Death Law Outside of Texas
If you’re in need of legal assistance in the state of Florida, the injury attorneys of GetMeJustice.com may be able to help.