When people think of water parks, many associate them with summertime fun for the family. Yet, when you venture to these places as they open for the season, you have to consider one very possible injury: slips and falls.

According to statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 15,000 slip and falls at water parks are reported each year. That’s about 40 percent of all injuries that occur at amusement parks. While many might blame the park owner or ride operator, is often not cut and dry. Rather, should you find yourself in this situation, be mindful of the following points.

How Do Slips and Falls Happen at Water Parks?

water slideWater parks are a combination of slippery surfaces, stairs and slides, all of which increase trip and slip risks when improperly maintained. However, several factors come into play:

  • Water parks are expected to follow ADA regulations concerning slippery surfaces. That is, both flat walking areas and stairs need to have non-slip, textured surfaces. When these surfaces get wet, the grip material helps prevent slip and fall injuries.
  • Not every slip occurs as a result of water. Several cleaning chemicals are needed to maintain the park and a spilled solution or mold growth from a lack of cleaning have contributed to injuries.
  • Even when dry and textured, wood decking may be behind a slip or fall injury. These structures, when laxly maintained, are known to warp and splinter, have loose nails and may collapse from rot and decay.
  • Unfortunately, water slides are not as safe as you think they are. According to a study conducted by the New Jersey Division of Community Affairs, patrons are twice as likely to get injured on a water slide as they are on go-karts, rollercoasters and rapids. One reason is that they have no restraints which, in addition to the slides’ slippery surface, increases the likelihood someone could fall out onto the ground below.

Common Water Park Injuries

Due to the factors listed, certain slip and fall injuries are more common at water parks than other places, including:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head and traumatic brain injuries
  • Drowning-related injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Fractures
  • Paralysis
  • Heart failure
  • General face and neck injuries

Although any patron may slip and fall near a water slide, statistics show that pre-teens and teens between 10 and 14 years of age experience the highest injury rate.

Who Is Responsible?

When it comes to water park maintenance, the owner and employees are required to conduct daily inspections of all rides, attractions, walkways and stairs to ensure slip hazards are not present. If they are found, protocols must include a plan of action to label the danger and close off the area or a complete shutdown of the attraction.

Yet, while those in change need to be watchful and take action, patrons also need to act with caution by:

  • Avoiding areas with “warning” or “danger” signs.
  • Proceeding with caution if conditions look slippery.
  • Not running along slippery surfaces.
  • Supervising any children as you walk or wait in line.
  • Avoiding areas not open to the public.

Depending on the injury and how it happened, the park’s lifeguards, ride operators, food vendors and ride manufacturers may bear some responsibility. To prevent excessive lawsuits, many parks have patrons sign a waiver or release of liability upon entry. While these documents can hold weight, they don’t relieve a park from its general duties to customers: Creating and maintaining a safe environment in line with local and federal safety standards. Thus, if the park’s lack of safety or maintenance appears to be the cause of your injury, you may still have a case.

Many heading out to a water park expect a few hours of fun, not an injury that changes them for life. As such, Trantolo & Trantolo believes that those operating water attractions need to be held accountable when an injury happens on the premises. If you believe you have a case, contact us today for more information.