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Amusement Park injury cases are often very similar to any personal injury or wrongful case you would find in Florida, with one large exception…the defendants are generally only a few corporations. You deserve to hire a lawyer with experience battling those same corporations.
According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, 300 million people go to amusement parks each year. It is estimated that the chance of an injury happening in a theme park setting is 1 in 9 million.
Amusement parks offer guests fun, adrenaline-pumping rides, fantastic sights and much more. Whether you are visiting a county fair, state fair, carnival, theme park, amusement park or even a water park, no element of surprise should include injury erupting from reckless behavior. Unfortunately, when carelessness is blended in with excitement, the outcome can be anything but joyous resulting in serious personal injury and even wrongful death. The Florida Amusement & Theme Park Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are dedicated to assisting you if you or a loved one has been hurt at an amusement park or similar site due to negligence by an owner or operator.
Just in 2000, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) mentioned1 that there were approximately 10,580 emergency room-treated injuries associated with fixed-site and mobile amusement rides, where the fixed site reported 20.8 injuries per million attendees. In addition to this, the main population injured were children, the majority of which were between 10-14 years old (17.9%), 5-9 years old (12.6%), 15-19 years old (13.8%) and 0-4 years old (6.3%). According to this study, females were injured about 1.5 times more often than males.
Among the most common injuries are the head, the face, the neck, the trunk, foot, knee, shoulders, and fingers, with the most common diagnoses being strain/sprain (35.1%), contusion/abrasion (27.3%), and laceration (11.2%).
Among the main causes of accidents were mechanical failures (such as 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) and operator behaviors (such as abruptly stopping the ride, improperly assembling or maintaining the ride, and defeating safety equipment such as brakes and automatic overheat cutoff switches).
By 2016, according to the NBC2, the CPSC reported that the 10,580-emergency room-treated injuries rose to 30,900 cases. Nevertheless, these numbers might not be showing us the full picture of incidents nationwide. In 1980, as CNN mentions3, the U.S. Congress revoked the CPSC the authority to regulate fixed-site parks (such as Disney and Six Flags theme parks), resulting in these sites being under state or local government control. However, not every state regulates amusement parks, so these loosely regulated entities are sometimes left to conduct investigations on incidents within their own facilities4, which can bias the incidents reported to authorities. And when it comes to mobile amusement parks, it is more difficult to monitor them. Whatever the case may be, it is important to note that regulation is not the same as monitor or enforce.
Many amusement park accidents take place on a more local level, at county or state fairs and short-term festivals and carnivals. The safety measures for small-scale events like these are not as strict as large and permanent parks. Rides and stations are set up and taken down repeatedly and transported across the country every few days or weeks. Sometimes the storage process of these rides can be inadequate. These rides are usually not maintained properly, overused and outdated. It is not uncommon for these rides to be improperly set up, which can make them a full on danger zone for paying customers.
The staff at these local events can also be crookedly constructed. Many times they are not fully aware or trained at handling such intricate structures. When this is the case, serious unfortunate accidents can occur. All it takes is one missing screw or an untrained employee to create a catastrophic injury that can change your life forever.
In Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has a statewide responsibility to inspect all amusement rides in Florida, except for those at large parks that have more than 1,000 employees and have full-time inspectors on staff. This means that parks like Walt Disney World, Universal and Sea World, can hire their own full-time inspectors and avoid being under state surveillance, as stated in Florida Statutes 616.242 11(a).
Tampa, Orlando, Lake Buena Vista, Winter Haven, Weeki Wachee and other parts of Florida have some magnificent theme parks that are famous throughout the country. Popular theme parks like these are required to have routine safety inspections and highly trained employees operating the rides. However, even if these safety precautions are performed regularly and properly, accidents can still happen. Injuries at theme parks can be lethal due to extreme heights and momentous speeds reached within seconds flat.
According to a paper published in 20195, in 2016 North America the most dangerous activities within the amusement parks, both fixed and mobile, were roller coasters with 36% of the incidents happening on this ride, around a 58% of the incidents happening on family and adult rides, and a 6% of incidents happening in children’s rides. As reaffirmed by this paper, according to the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau, the majority of amusement ride and device incidents are patron and/or operator driven.
Guest safety in any amusement park setting should always come first and be at the top of the establishment’s list of priorities. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and when careless actions or efforts are carried out by owners or employees, people get hurt. Some common negligence issues that lead to injuries include:
Most theme park accidents deal with large corporations, sometimes one claim can involve several different companies. At Whittel & Melton we are prepared to go to bat against major corporations; we will not cower from scare tactics enlisted by these corporations to get you to take a low settlement. It is important to know that swift settlement offers are usually not in your best interest, however all cases are unique. Generally speaking, companies will try and dissuade you from pursuing your legal matters by convincing you that you will be unsuccessful against them. This is simply an effort to limit their product liability exposure. The skilled Amusement & Theme Park Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can best advise you of your legal options. Until your case and injuries are thoroughly evaluated, fair compensation cannot be awarded.
Call us today for a free consultation regarding your injuries from any Florida amusement park. You can reach us online or by phone statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).