Despite the fun characters, lively setting and whirling, twirling rides, theme parks and amusements do pose a hazard to the people who visit them. Each year, thousands of people are injured, and dozens are killed while visiting a theme park. According to CNN, the number of accidents on record could be even higher; some states do not collect this data at all; the parks themselves also work hard to limit publicity surrounding injuries and fatalities. A recent Disney case that made headlines was particularly devastating; a child was snatched by an alligator while visiting an onsite resort; Disney settled with the family and reacted with additional measures to separate the natural fauna of Florida from guests.
Not all Accidents Make Headlines
The incidents that are the result of a ride malfunction (with guest ejection, injury or evacuation) and those that cause significant injury or death are the most widely reported, but thousands of people are injured in more mundane ways each year. Slips and falls, food poisoning, collisions with employees or even injury from not properly maintained ride vehicles are common occurrences that impact visitors but do not make headlines.
Faulty Equipment and Negligent Employees
The most dangerous accidents occur as a result of faulty equipment and negligent employees. Rides that were poorly designed, operators that fail to take basic safety precautions or follow directions and equipment that is poorly maintained all increase risk. In 2016, a 10-year-old boy was thrown from a water slide and killed in a Kansas theme park. Park managers were later arrested due to their extreme negligence as well as a series of mis-steps and lack of caution that led to the child’s death.
Visitors can also put themselves into harm’s way by deliberately bypassing safety rules or tampering with equipment. Zoos are particularly prone to injuries that are caused in part by unruly behavior. Visitors that attempt to leave rides early, engage with wild animals, climb into cages or even go behind the scenes put themselves at risk; injuries in this case may be more difficult to pursue in court, since the victim had some role in the injury. The best thing to do in this scenario is to talk with a personal injury attorney about the experience and aftermath.
Theme parks and amusement parks are designed to be fun, but they are also businesses that need to be held responsible for injuries they cause. Since most operators have a vested interest in maintaining a safe image, accidents and injuries are often cleaned up and whisked away in minutes, making it crucial to take photos and document the event. If you have been injured, you should do your best to document the injury and the medical treatment required, since no evidence may remain after the fact.
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of an amusement park or their employees, a personal injury attorney can help. Contact Harshbarger Law to talk about your case and to ensure you are treated fairly by the park and the insurance company. We understand how swiftly a fun outing can turn into a nightmare and stand ready to help.