It’s summer, 2012. And with it comes marketing for more and more amusement park rides, such as the new ride that debuted at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Mass.: The roller coaster “Goliath.” Guests sit beneath the track with their feet dangling as they ascend a tower. Once at the top of the tower, riders drop nearly 20 stories in a vertical free-fall that reaches speeds of 65 miles per hour. Then riders go head-over-heels on the outside of a 102-foot-tall vertical loop, followed by a 110-foot-tall butterfly turn that rockets them up another tower. www.sixflags.com/newengland/index.aspx. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Except when you take into account the accidents that can happen. Too often, the public attends amusement and theme parks to have a good time, and they don’t consider the kinds of injuries that can occur on these rides. As a Massachusetts amusement-ride injury lawyer, I know all too well the types of personal injuries that can occur. Read on, below. I’ll get to injury statistics about amusement park rides further down in this blog post.
Theme-park injuries and amusement-park injuries can frequently be life-threatening. The personal injuries someone can sustain include whiplash, broken bones, heart attacks, traumatic brain injury, and neck and back injuries. In adition to permanent-construction theme parks like Six Flags and Disney World, there are also many traveling carnivals throughout Massachusetts each summer. Visiting a local carnival that has stopped in your town? Although kids love them, (I certainly remember that I loved them,) I know from professional experience that many of them run electrical wiring on the ground, where almost anyone, especially kids and older people, can trip over them, or walk in the wrong place and suffer an electrical shock. And people should always worry about equipment that is routinely getting taken down – and put back up — as carnivals are basically traveling road shows. Equipment that is so temporary doesn’t really inspire confidence. Worse, this equipment is assembled and reassembled by the least-skilled of workers.
Water parks? There is always the substantial risk of accidental drowning or slip-and-fall injuries. (Not to mention water-born bacterial infections.) In fact, slip and fall accidents at theme parks may be even more common than more serious accidents from thrill rides. According to research, Knott’s Berry Farm in California had to pay more than $70,000 to a lady who tripped on a gap and suffered a fractured ankle. And here’s an interesting statistic from the Orange County Register and Reuters this past June – apparently in the past five years Disneyland has faced almost 140 personal injury lawsuits. And Disneyland claims it is the best when it comes to customer safety!
According to the most recent figures by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), in 2010 approximately 290 Million guests visited amusement park facilities in the United States. However, an estimated 1,207 ride injuries occurred in 2010 – and those are only injuries that were reported. At least 59% of the reported injuries were classified as serious, meaning they required some form of overnight treatment at a hospital. Similarly, figures from The National Consumer Product Safety Commission estimate that each year, an average of 7,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries they sustained in amusement ride accidents. If you visit the website www.Rideaccidents.com, the world’s most comprehensive source of amusement ride accident reports and related news, you will be stunned to read about all of the accidents that have occurred at theme parks. I’ll address more about that – and what you can do to prevent such injuries – in my next post on this subject.