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The amusement park is a fun family vacation spot, but the rides and grounds present an array of hazards. As you’ve likely heard in the news, serious accidents involving rides have resulted in permanent injuries or even death. In fact, for 2008 alone, rides accounted for 1,343 injuries, with 80 percent requiring hospitalization.

Injuries

A malfunctioning attraction, a passenger falling out of a ride, slips and trips on grounds, or improper equipment setup have potential to result in the following conditions:

  • Whiplash
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries

And injuries can occur in any park setting: large amusement parks, water parks, state fairs, carnivals, ski parks, and even spa facilities. Beyond common hazards, each attraction has its own safety issues:

Water Parks:

  • Drowning in pools
  • Insufficient staff-to-guest ratios, which prevent lifeguards from monitoring all attendees.
  • Safety equipment, such as life jackets, isn’t ready during an emergency.

Fairs and Carnivals:

  • Equipment gets put through excessive wear and tear, as it’s regularly being set up and taken down.
  • Not providing riders with correct instructions.
  • Not regularly inspecting rides and equipment.
  • A lack of clear warning signs.
  • Workers don’t pay attention to height requirements.

Ski Parks:

  • The staff must make sure the hills and equipment are safe for all guests.
  • Poor maintenance and unmarked hazards have potential to result in a serious accident.

Resorts and Spas:

  • Guests may be given contaminated products or food.
  • Swimming pool accidents.

Responsibility

Park owners have a legal responsibility to make sure all visitors and workers are safe and to properly maintain all grounds and attractions.

In the event of an accident, several individuals may bear the responsibility: the owners, ride designer or manufacturer, the operator, contractors, park employees, or even a concession stand owner.

All involved in operations bear the following obligations to safety:

  • All conditions are safe
  • All employees are properly trained to operate equipment
  • All employees know where safety controls and measures are
  • All equipment is properly maintained and regularly inspected.

Lawsuits

According to a 2009 Orlando Sentinel article regarding injuries in Florida’s theme parks and the subsequent lawsuits filed, most fall under slip and fall instances, although plaintiffs have pursued wrongful death and product defect cases in a handful of instances.

With visiting amusement parks comes the notion of assumed risk – that is, attendees are expected to approach attractions in a logical and safe manner. As such, the defendant in such claims may attempt to prove that the guest was fully aware of the park’s hazards or that he or she didn’t comply with obvious safety rules.

However, the other side is, the defendant must apply a duty of care to all rides and equipment. In fact, because of the safety concerns associated, states have separate regulations regarding parks’ duty to maintain their rides and attractions.

Have you been injured while visiting a theme park, fair, or even a resort? Rather than have your claim dismissed, bring it to Trantolo & Trantolo. Contact any of our Connecticut locations to speak with an experienced premises liability attorney.