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Amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals provide fun family activities during summer, but they also pose a serious threat. Amusement park rides injure thousands of people every year, sometimes resulting in death. When a person is hurt at an amusement park, he or she has the right to sue those responsible – whether it’s the amusement park, a maintenance person, ride operator, ride manufacturer, or a combination of these.
Amusement park rides can cause a variety of serious life-altering injuries, ranging from brain damage to blunt force trauma. When you hear “roller coaster injury,” you probably imagine a ride derailing or a severe accident. However, even a normally functioning ride can cause injury. Fast-moving roller coasters such as those at California’s Legoland, the San Diego County Fair, or SeaWorld can exert too great a force of gravity, leading to serious brain and spinal cord injuries.
The sharp up-and-down or side-to-side motion of many roller coasters causes the brain to bounce around the inside of the skull, resulting in brain swelling and damage. Children are especially susceptible to ride-related brain injury, since gravitational pulls affect their systems more. The G-forces of rides can also damage the spinal cord when a ride whips the body around in quick succession.
Other injuries result from ride malfunction or part defects. While ride malfunctions don’t happen every day, when they do, they can be catastrophic. Ride malfunctions are often due to operator negligence or part failure. Victims of negligence in roller coaster accidents can potentially sue the theme park or the ride manufacturer for compensation.
When someone is the victim of a ride malfunction or amusement park injury, it can be difficult to assign blame. While the theme park itself may be responsible sometimes, at other times it can be a different defendant or multiple defendants. The courts assign responsibility for amusement park injuries by investigating the source of the injury, as well as looking at the type of liability the park has based on Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations.
It may surprise riders to find out that the CPSC does not regulate major theme parks such as Legoland and SeaWorld. Instead, the CPSC is responsible for enforcing safety codes and acceptable standards of practice for mobile amusement park rides, such as those found at the San Diego Fair. Despite the CPSC not imposing safety regulations, victims of amusement park injuries have a variety of legal protections.
The law obligates amusement parks to provide a reasonably safe environment for patrons. This includes properly maintaining rides, posting clear warning signs for those who should not ride (i.e., those with heart problems), training ride operators and employees, inspecting rides routinely, and providing correct instructions for riders. If the amusement park fails in any of these duties, the court can find the park guilty of negligence.
If the amusement park did everything in its power to provide a reasonably safe environment for patrons, but a ride malfunction caused an accident, the victim(s) may have a case against the manufacturer of the ride or maker of the defective part. For example, if a design flaw in the lap bar of a ride makes it susceptible to unlatching during the ride, the courts will hold the maker of the lap bar responsible.
If you’ve sustained an injury on an amusement park, carnival, or fair ride, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys for the best chance at winning a case against negligent parks and part manufacturers in California. We have the resources and ability to take a large corporation to court in your defense.
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