With summer right around the corner, millions of Americans are gearing up to head to amusement parks, carnivals, and theme parks for thrills and excitement.
Unfortunately, dangers await them as well. Each year, on average, 10,000 people suffer injuries at parks and five people die, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Because rules on reporting amusement park accidents and injuries vary so much from state to state, and since many injuries go unreported, the true number of accident injuries is hard to determine.
The injuries that are reported range from less serious ones such as bumps, bruises and small cuts to more serious injuries such as broken bones, brain injuries, paralysis, and loss of limbs. In one of the more tragic recent cases, a 13-year-old girl on a tower-drop ride at a Six Flags park in Kentucky had both of her feet severed when a cable broke during the ride and struck the girl in the legs at a high rate of speed.
Overall, some of the main reasons for injuries at parks include:
- Rider error, such as standing up during a ride or removing restraints.
- Mechanical failure.
- Ride operator negligence, which may result from inattentiveness or failing to properly secure riders.
- Falls at entrances or exits to rides.
In 1988 the West Virginia legislature created the Amusement Rides and Amusement Attractions Safety Act (W.Va. Code § 21-10-1 to 19). The Act, among other things, requires that all rides and attractions be inspected annually and that all serious injuries or fatalities be reported to the State and made publically available.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury at an amusement park or carnival, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to determine if you may be owed damages.
Some websites, such as www.rideaccidents.com, have been created to help inform the general public about accidents that occur at parks, carnivals and fairs. Of particular concern is the amount of accidents and injuries sustained from so-called inflatable rides like moon bounces or slides.