Who Is Responsible for An Amusement Park Injury?

The recent indictment of two owners of the Schlitterbahn Water Park on charges of second-degree murder after a ten-year-old boy was decapitated on one of the park’s slides has sparked substantial scrutiny into theme park safety.  A subsequent in-depth investigation into the park published in Texas Monthly revealed several terrifying insights into the dearth of regulation over water parks around the United States: the ride’s designer had no qualifications to design water slides, he did not have a college degree and had never studied physics or engineering.  Water parks are subject to no federal regulation, and oversight is left up to state governments, which vary widely.

Fortunately, California has instituted relatively tighter oversight of water parks and other amusement parks.  However, accidents still happen—just last year, another ten-year-old boy was thrown from a slide at the Wave Water Park in Dublin a mere 90 minutes after the new ride had opened.  His family has since hired a water park accident lawyer and filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the park and local and state governments for negligence and emotional distress.

So who is to blame when a park-goer is injured at an amusement park?  The answer to this question varies from case to case; however, in general the amusement park owners have what is called ‘premises liability.’  In other words, if you are a paying customer and are injured at an amusement park, the park owners are responsible if your injuries are related to a failure to maintain the park in a safe condition.

Other parties may be additionally held liable.  For example, in the criminal suit filed in the Schlitterbahn case, the ride designer was held liable for the unsafe design of the slide that resulted in the boy’s death.  In the Wave Water Park case, the victim’s family alleges that city and state government officials failed in their oversight duties.

What Types of Injuries are Common at Amusement Parks?

Some of the more commonly thought of injuries suffered at amusement parks include:

  • Slip-and-fall accidents, which can result in serious head injuries, broken bones, and contusions.
  • Injuries related to faulty, dangerous, or improperly maintained rides and equipment. These injuries can range from minor muscle soreness due to improperly fitted harnesses, or more serious traumatic brain injuries and even (as in the Schlitterbahn case) death.
  • Injuries related to negligent, improperly trained, or unsupervised park employees. The proper operation of amusement park rides often requires extensive training and demands vigilance.  Failure to fulfill these requirements can result in abrupt stops, derailments, stuck rides, and other technical problems that can result in serious injuries to riders.

In addition, the less commonly thought of—but equally dangerous—threat of infectious disease is particularly prevalent at amusement parks, where high concentrations of people (many of whom are children) risk easy exposure.  This risk is especially prevalent in Southern California, which historically is home to high rates of unvaccinated children.  A 2015 measles outbreak at Disneyland highlighted this risk.  Water parks carry a high risk of infection from diseases like norovirus and meningitis.

What to Do if You Have Been Injured at an Amusement Park

Even the most vigilant of park attendees (or their parents) are at risk at amusement park.  If you or your child has been injured as a result of park negligence, contact a theme park injury attorney to discuss your case.  The experienced lawyers at The Dominguez Firm, LLP have helped injured clients in the greater Los Angeles and Bakersfield areas to achieve justice and a positive result to their case.  Our lawyers pride themselves on an exceptional personal injury practice, and our firm has been recognized as one of the premiere personal injury law firms in Southern California.  Call today for a free consultation at 800-818-1818.

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