Amusement Park Lawsuits

January 25, 2016

Amusement parks are wildly popular in the United States. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks, 375 million guests visit amusement parks in North America annually. Amusement parks comprise big business in the United States, accounting for an economic impact of approximately $55.4 billion in 2011. South Carolina is certainly no stranger to the amusement park industry, boasting five well-known parks: Carowinds, Family Kingdom Amusement Park, Freestyle Music Park, Myrtle Beach Pavilion, and Myrtle Waves.

While amusement parks should be all fun and games, a park visit can potentially result in injury or even death. One can suffer an injury at an amusement park in a variety of ways. The most common is from the negligent operation of a ride. Another possibility is due to the inherent nature of the ride; some rides reach speeds upwards of a 100 miles per hour, which could result in nausea and dizziness. The mechanical failure of a ride could also lead to liability. Sometimes the amusement park is not even at fault because rider misuse can also cause injury. Employees can also independently cause injury (under the doctrine of vicarious liability, the amusement park is liable for the acts of its employees).

Real World Examples

Consider the Harry County, South Carolina incident where the defendant’s gross negligence proximately caused the plaintiff to suffer a traumatic brain injury. A 44-year-old plaintiff allegedly fell from one of the rides operated by the defendant. Hours later, the plaintiff exhibited symptoms of nausea and dizziness, prompting a visit to the hospital. She underwent an emergency craniotomy as a result of the fall at the park. The fall caused the plaintiff to suffer an intracranial hemorrhage. This caused immediate discomfort as well as a long-term epilepsy seizure disorder and facial palsy. After suing the amusement park company for negligence in operating the ride, the plaintiff was awarded $9.9 million to compensate for pain and suffering.

Sometimes, injuries occur at smaller venues, like local carnivals. In 2011, six people were injured when a local amusement park ride broke apart, resulting in the detachment of a metal sealing was propelled into a large crowd.

A Hypothetical

Let us assume for a moment that you were a member of the crowd that witnessed the ride fall apart. What would be your first instinct? At first, an individual in this type of situation must seek immediate shelter or safety. If this fails, and the individual is struck by something at a carnival or amusement park, he or she must seek medical attention. After reaching a safe place, legal counsel must be retained.

While some people hesitate to seek legal advice, it is always in your best interest to learn about your rights sooner than later. If no one reports the accident or files a claim, park owners have no fiscal motivation to operate the park in a safer condition. The commencement of a lawsuit informs the amusement park company that they may have committed a serious wrong and they will be motivated to correct any dangerous condition to prevent facing future lawsuits from park guests succumbing to a similar injury.  

Contact an Attorney

Amusement parks are a popular American pastime, but recent cases paint a bleak picture about the liability some parks may face as a result of their negligence. If you suffered an injury as a result of an amusement park visit, contact legal counsel at The Connell Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation to learn about your rights, preserve your claim, and commence suit.