Millions of Americans flock to amusement parks each year, but the twists and turns of an amusement park ride come at a risk. Every year, thousands of patrons are injured at amusement parks, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). For an unlucky few, a trip to an amusement park may even end in tragedy. In the majority of amusement park accidents, most injuries and deaths are attributable to negligence by amusement park staff or owners. One of the most commonly cited causes of amusement park accidents involves a failure to detect malfunctioning rides or ride parts. Regardless of who or what is to blame for an amusement park accident, it is important that families of injured victims seek legal representation.
Children and adolescents are those most likely to require medical attention following an amusement park accident. One study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy estimates that nearly 4,500 amusement park patrons under the age of 18 visit emergency rooms for injuries sustained at an amusement park each year. Most commonly, children are injured when they fall off, on, or against a ride. However, the most serious types of injuries to children often happen when they are struck by a ride or are struck by a foreign object during a ride. Twenty-eight percent of all amusement park accidents involving a child or adolescent result in brain or spinal cord injuries.
The statistics are sobering and cause for alarm, but many of these accidents are entirely avoidable. Because children and adolescents are among the most vulnerable at an amusement park, it is imperative that staff adhere to height and weight restrictions for all rides. Similarly, when a ride is off-limits to children who are unaccompanied by an adult, the rule must be enforced. Amusement park staff is also responsible for ensuring that all safety belts are securely fastened before operating a ride. Failure to do so can give rise to a personal injury claim if a rider is hurt.
Children are not the only ones at risk, as adults are frequently injured in amusement park accidents as well. Liability can arise when park owners fail to provide patrons with adequate warnings about the dangers posed by a ride. Rides that involve high speeds, sharp turns and centrifugal force must be advertised accordingly because they place patrons who are pregnant or suffer from a heart condition at an increased risk of injury. Amusement park officials must securely cordon off all amusement park rides to prevent passersby from venturing into harm’s way. Additionally, all rides must be routinely inspected and immediately decommissioned when a defect is discovered.
It should be noted that an injury may be compensable even when a patron’s own actions contributed to their fate. Pursuant to New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.1, et seq., damages are subject to a reduction when a plaintiff is at least partly to blame for their injuries, such as when a rider fails to obey a posted weight limit or fails to keep his or her arms and legs inside a moving ride as instructed. However, if an amusement park owner or staff member is found by a judge or jury to be more than 50 percent responsible for an amusement park accident, the plaintiff’s actions cannot serve as an outright bar to compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an amusement park accident, the New Jersey amusement park accident lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP will seek compensation on your behalf. Call 732-777-0100 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation at our offices in Red Bank, Edison or Toms River, New Jersey, where we represent amusement park accident victims throughout the surrounding areas.