Can I File a Lawsuit for an Amusement
& Theme Park Accident Injury?

Injured in an Amusement Park accident? Turn to the experienced and
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Los Angeles, California Amusement & Theme Park Accident Injury Lawyers

Approximately 335 million people visit American amusement parks annually, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and a CNN report.

Amusement & Theme Park Accident Injury Lawyers

California Amusement & Theme Park Accident Injury Lawyers

California is home to countless well-known and beloved amusement and theme parks. Some of the most-visited California amusement/theme parks include:

  • Disneyland Park
  • Disneyland Resort
  • Disney California Adventure
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain
  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
  • SeaWorld
  • Belmont Park
  • Pacific Park
  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park
  • Funderland Park
  • California’s Great America
  • Children’s Fairyland
  • Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Thankfully, the likelihood of suffering an injury on an amusement or theme park ride is quite low, with the IAAPA estimating that the odds of a serious injury leading to a hospital stay at one in 16 million. However, when such incidents do occur, a civil lawsuit to recover financial compensation for the victim may be warranted.

Despite various regulations and safety standards designed to keep theme park goers safe, negligence on the part of the park owners, operators, or even the ride manufacturers can occur. When a theme or amusement park accident leading to an injury happens as a result of negligence or carelessness, the injured victim may be a entitled to a cash settlement for various types of damages.

Below we will review everything you need to know about amusement and theme park injury lawsuits, including how to file a claim, how much said claim may be worth, what you can expect during the litigation process, and how long it may take to obtain justice and recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve.

Amusement and Theme Park Accident Statistics

Amusement and Theme Park Accident Statistics

Unfortunately, amusement park accidents are not uncommon. Just last month, Tyre Sampson, a 14-year-old St. Louis resident, fell from the FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park in Orlando. The FreeFall takes riders up and then drops them nearly 400 feet at speeds that reach more than 75 mph, according to a CNN report.

CBS News reported that Sampson, who was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed over 300 pounds, plummeted from his seat on the Orlando theme park ride, located along a busy street in the heart of the city’s tourist district. And Sampson’s story is one of countless examples of tragic theme park accidents that occur annually in the U.S.

In 2016, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that 30,000 injuries linked to amusement park ride accidents occurred. Said injuries were so serious that they led to emergency room visits. However, as CNN reported, experts warn that data on amusement park safety is limited and regulations are inconsistent. Furthermore, another headline confirming an accident leading to either a serious injury or fatality at an amusement park is a regular occurrence.

Although stories of negligence and improper safety protocols at amusement parks like those featured in HBO’s recent documentary, “Class Action Park,” are not necessarily the norm, accidents involving injuries/fatalities still occur regularly around the nation.

In the U.S., the following amusement park fatality statistics have been confirmed:

  • Between 1987 and 2000, there were an estimated 4.5 amusement ride-related deaths per year.
  • Between 1990 and 2004, there were 52 deaths associated with amusement park rides (3.7 per year).
  • Three deaths occurred in 2001; two deaths occurred in 2002; and three deaths occurred in 2003.

Additionally, the following amusement park injury statistics have been confirmed:

  • Every day, from May through September in each year between 1990-2010, an average of 20 injuries by amusement park guests under 18 years of age that required hospitalization were recorded.
  • In 2011, 1,204 people were injured at 400 amusement parks.

The IAAPA created a list of amusement and theme park ride safety tips for visitors. Those tips include:

  • Obey listed age, height, weight, and health restrictions.
  • Observe all posted ride safety rules, and follow all verbal instructions given by ride operators or provided by recorded announcements.
  • Keep hands, arms, legs and feet inside the ride at all times.
  • Secure all loose articles, including wallets, change, sunglasses, cell phones, and hats.
  • Do not board a ride impaired.
  • Remain seated in the ride until it comes to a complete stop and you are instructed to exit.
  • Always use safety equipment provided and never attempt to wriggle free of or loosen restraints or other safety devices.
  • Parents should make sure their children can understand and follow safe and appropriate ride behavior.
  • Never force anyone, especially children, to ride attractions they don’t want to ride.
  • If you see any unsafe behavior or condition on a ride, report it to a supervisor or manager immediately.

For additional information on amusement and theme park accident statistics, please visit Dordulian Law Group’s in-depth blog.

What are Some Common Amusement and Theme Park Accident Injuries?

Depending on the type of amusement park ride, accidents can cause a variety of injuries ranging in severity. Some of the more common types of injuries sustained in amusement or theme park ride accidents include:

  • Head or neck injuries (often from bumper car/roller coaster accidents)
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Concussion (MTBI)
  • Whiplash
  • Torn ligaments
  • Cuts, scrapes, or lacerations
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Slip/trip and falls
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Drowning/wrongful death

If you or a loved one suffered an injury on an amusement or theme park ride, you may be entitled to a cash settlement. Contact a member of Dordulian Law Group’s Personal Injury Division today for a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation at 818-322-4056.

What Causes Amusement and Theme Park Ride Accidents/Malfunctions?

Amusement and theme park accidents can occur for a number of reasons. A review of in-depth investigation reports by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from January 1990 through June 2001 revealed several hazard patterns associated with amusement park ride-related incidents.

A review of 90 accident case investigations conducted by the CPSC revealed hazard patterns involving mechanical failure, operator behavior, consumer behavior, other factors, and combinations of these factors to be the primary causes of amusement and theme park accident injuries and deaths. Let’s review those individual factors in greater detail.

Mechanical failures associated with amusement ride-related incidents: Such incidents included missing safety pins, broken welds or structural components, exposed electrical wires, broken drive chains, malfunctioning lap bars or other safety restraints, failure to shutoff, improper detachment of cars, and improper detachment of structural components.

Operator behaviors associated with amusement ride-related incidents: Such incidents included abruptly stopping the ride (e.g., following an apparent mechanical failure), improperly assembling or maintaining the ride, and defeating safety equipment such as brakes and automatic overheat cutoff switches.

Consumer behaviors associated with amusement ride-related incidents: Such incidents included intentionally rocking cars, standing up, defeating safety restraints, sitting improperly (e.g., sideways or with feet above lap bar), holding a child above the safety restraint, and in one instance, a disembarking passenger intentionally restarting the ride by pressing the start button as other passengers were disembarking.

Other hazard patterns: Such scenarios applied to rides that can injure people while apparently functioning normally, without any unusual or inappropriate behavior on the part of consumers or operators. An example is a hand-powered ride called the “Spaceball” in which the occupant is spun extremely rapidly. Five reports of eye hemorrhage, and one report of retinal tear and possible cerebral edema, were associated with this ride. CPSC files document reported cases of amusement ride-related cerebral and retinal hemorrhage, subdural hematoma, loss of consciousness, headache, and dizziness. Fatalities with little or no overt trauma have occurred during or after rides which induce abrupt changes in speed and direction, according to the CPSC report.

Combination of hazard patterns: Such “combination” factors causing amusement or theme park accidents varied. In one incident, for example, an operator abruptly stopped a ride upon hearing an unusual “thumping” sound due to a bent rail. In another case, the victim reported that the operator spun him longer and more vigorously than usual in a ride called the “Spaceball,” according to the CPSC report.

According to the report, “The investigated cases were neither a probability sample nor complete account of all such incidents, so estimates of the proportions or numbers of incidents involving the scenarios observed in these investigations are not provided.”

Los Angeles Times Report Looks at Southern California Amusement Park Injuries

In 2014, the Los Angeles Times published a story examining the most common theme park injuries and ailments. The Times investigation looked at 2,089 injury reports filed in 2007 through 2012 with the state Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees the safety of theme park rides.

According to the report, the most common injuries and ailments sustained by visitors at Southern California amusement parks include:

  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

But the following statistics were also confirmed:

  • Approximately one in eight accident reports involved riders being hurt while getting on or off a ride.
  • People are more likely to get sick/injured on older rides and attractions as opposed to newer and more modern ones.
  • The largest category of reports (about 18%) was related to motion sickness, including fainting, nausea, and dizziness.
  • Back and neck pain ranked second (at 16%).
  • Head injuries ranked third (at 12%).
  • Combined, parks reported an average of about 350 injuries a year during the six-year period analyzed.
  • Combined total attendance at Southern California’s largest parks was estimated to exceed 40 million visitors a year.
  • More women reported injuries than men.
  • Most injuries came from roller coasters and water slides.
  • Nearly 20% of injured theme park visitors reported having preexisting health problems such as asthma or high blood pressure.

But as the report also noted, amusement and theme parks are not required to report data on attendance or the number of riders per attraction (making it impossible to calculate an injury rate based on ridership).

According to the Los Times, in raw numbers of incidents reported, the leading Southern California attractions involving accidents were:

  • Space Mountain, with 120 over the six years studied
  • The GhostRider roller coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm was second with 92

Attractions at Disney parks rounded out the top 10 most common Southern California amusement park rides to cause accidents:

  • The California Screamin’ coaster (76 incidents)
  • Splash Mountain (60 incidents)
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds (59 incidents)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (58 incidents)
  • Indiana Jones Adventure (53 incidents)
  • Disneyland Railroad (42 incidents)
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (42 incidents)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (41 incidents)
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What Does the Law Say About Amusement and Theme Park Accident Injuries?

What Does the Law Say About Amusement and Theme Park Accident Injuries?

The IAAPA confirms that currently only 44 of 50 states regulate amusement parks. The six states without official oversight include:

  • Alabama
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Wyoming
  • Utah

Laws, regulations, and safety standards vary from state-to-state, but also vary depending on the type of amusement or theme park ride in question. For example, if an amusement park ride is considered temporary or permanent (e.g. a state fair versus a venue like California’s Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm), the required notifications for when an accident occurs are different.

According to the California Amusement Ride and Tramway Unit (ART) under Labor Code sections 7340-7357 and 7900-7932, the following notifications following either a ride modification or accident/incident must occur:

  • For Permanent Amusement Rides (PAR): Ride owners and operators must report an intention to operate a new permanent amusement ride or reopen a permanent amusement ride after a major modification (via contacting the nearest ART Unit office handling permanent amusement rides). Permanent amusement ride owners and operators must report an injury or accident on a permanent amusement ride (via contacting the nearest ART Unit office handling permanent amusement rides).
  • For Temporary (Portable) Amusement Rides (TAR): Temporary amusement ride owners and operators must report an intention to erect a new ride or alter an existing ride (via contacting the ART Unit office handling temporary amusement rides). Temporary amusement ride owners and operators must report an injury, accident, or major mechanical failure (via calling the ART Unit office handling temporary amusement rides).
  • For Passenger Tramways (Ski Lifts): Tramway owners and operators must report an injury or accident on a passenger tramway (via calling the ART Unit office handling tramway inspections).

Amusement and theme parks have a duty of care under California law to ensure a safe environment for all visitors. When negligence or carelessness causes an accident involving an injury, a California amusement or theme park civil claim may be filed by the victim to recover due financial compensation for various types of losses, including hospital/medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma. We will review the most common types of California amusement and theme park accident injury damages in greater detail below.

What Damages or Financial Compensation Can be Recovered in an Amusement Park Accident Lawsuit?

The most common examples of amusement/theme park accident injury damages in civil lawsuits are broken down below according to type.

Common California Amusement/Theme Park Accident Injury Economic Damages:

  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Emergency department treatment
  • Physical Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Lost Wages
  • Lost Earning Capacity

Common California Amusement/Theme Park Accident Injury Non-Economic Damages:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Scarring or other serious injury
  • Compensation for loss of a limb or disfigurement

Hiring a Dordulian Law Group (DLG) amusement or theme park accident injury lawyer can help ensure your civil claim is maximized, and that you recover all applicable damages after an incident due to negligence. Our Personal Injury Division is led by Sam Dordulian, a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County with decades of experience helping injured victims secure the maximum financial compensation they deserve.

To learn more about how important it can be to have an experienced DLG California amusement or theme park accident injury lawyer handling your case, please visit our recent blog on how pain and suffering damages are calculated in personal injury civil claims. When it comes to securing the maximum financial compensation you deserve for you or your loved one’s amusement/theme park accident injury, having the experienced legal team on your side can make a world of difference.

Should I Hire an Amusement/Theme Park Accident Injury Lawyer?

Hiring an amusement or theme park injury attorney to fight for the maximum financial compensation you deserve can help ensure your accident does not leave you with mounting medical bills or other financial burdens.

But proving liability in a California amusement/theme park accident injury case requires skill and experience in order to secure the maximum financial compensation you truly deserve. Fighting to recover intangible and hard to quantify damages such as pain and suffering or emotional trauma can be challenging, and that’s where DLG’s experienced amusement/theme park accident injury lawyers can help.

We have the proven results you need for peace of mind throughout every step of the amusement/theme park accident injury claims process. We won’t settle for anything less than a maximum financial damages payout for your California amusement/theme park accident injury lawsuit – whether the result of an at-fault park owner, operator, or ride manufacturer.

Hiring a DLG amusement or theme park accident injury lawyer to handle your claim can be in your overall best interest for a number of reasons. In fact, personal injury victims who hire private attorneys often secure greater financial compensation for their claims.

For example, the Insurance Research Council (IRC) recently conducted a study which confirmed the following personal injury claim statistics:

  • Settlements for injured claimants were 40% higher when they had secured private legal representation.
  • The average insurance payout was 3.5 times higher for injured victims who hired private attorneys (when compared to those representing themselves).
  • 85% of all money paid by insurance companies for bodily injuries is received by victims who have secured representation from a private personal injury attorney.

Reaching out to a member of the DLG amusement and theme park injury team for a free consultation will ensure you have a full understanding of the legal process. During your free California amusement/theme park injury consultation, a DLG lawyer will:

  • Review the facts of your case and determine whether negligence was involved
  • Discuss all available legal options for your amusement/theme park accident injury claim
  • Provide an estimate for how long your amusement/theme park injury lawsuit might take to settle
  • Provide an estimate for how much your amusement/theme park injury claim/lawsuit may be worth

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

With DLG, your amusement or theme park accident injury consultation is always free, confidential, and without any obligation. We’ll review the facts of your case and provide you with all available legal options to ensure your rights are protected and the maximum financial damages award you deserve is pursued.

We serve theme park and amusement park accident injury clients throughout California as well as the United States.

Some of the local areas DLG serves include:

  • Los Angeles
  • Long Beach
  • Glendale
  • Torrance
  • North Hollywood
  • Burbank
  • Pasadena
  • San Diego
  • Bakersfield
  • Sacramento
  • Fresno
  • Riverside
  • San Francisco
  • Granada Hills
  • Simi Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • Antelope Valley

Contact the Best Los Angeles, California, Amusement or Theme Park Injury Lawyers

DLG’s founder and president, Sam Dordulian, has more than 25 years of experience and over 100 jury trial victories. Dordulian and the DLG team have successfully litigated major personal injury cases, and we will fight hard to obtain the maximum financial compensation you deserve.

DLG’s Los Angeles amusement/theme park accident injury lawyers have secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts for clients while maintaining a 98% success record. With our No Win/No Fee Guarantee, there is never any upfront cost for our expert amusement/theme park injury legal representation, and you never pay a dime until we successfully secure a maximum financial damages award for your claim.

Contact a DLG Los Angeles, California, amusement or theme park accident injury lawyer today at 818-322-4056 to arrange for a free consultation.

Don’t miss the deadline for filing your amusement/theme park accident injury lawsuit. Injured victims who fail to file claims within the standard two-year statute of limitations typically waive their right to seek critical financial compensation for damages.

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