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How Safe Are Thrill Rides at Theme Parks?

Fiol Law Group|Posted in Safety,Wrongful Death on February 12, 2019

Amusement park rides can pose a dangerous hazard to America’s thrill seekers. While people actively seek out the scariest, fastest, and most complicated rides available throughout the country, many people forget the possibility that something can go seriously wrong with these machines. While the chances of getting into an accident on an amusement park ride are relatively slim, they can still occur and have devastating impacts on the victims.

Amusement Park Accident Statistics

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that data involving amusement park safety can be severely limited and regulations are inconsistent from amusement park to amusement park. While more established parks may have more stringent regulations, local fairs and smaller parks may have less regulated rides.

According to an annual survey by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and the National Safety Council, many injuries occur each year.

  • 1,508 people suffered ride-related injuries in 2015.
  • 119 of these injuries occurred on children’s rides.
  • 952 of these injuries occurred on family and adult rides.
  • 437 of these injuries occurred on roller coasters.
  • 82 of these injuries were serious.

These injuries factor out to about 4.8 injuries per one million people in attendance. While the chances of sustaining injuries on a thrill ride can be very small, these accidents are quite devastating when serious.

Regulations and Standards for Amusement Park Safety

According to the IAAPA, amusement parks value safety over any other priority. As a result, various agencies govern various safety standards. However, the IAAPA asserts that states regulate amusement park safety in only 44 out of 50 states. The states without amusement park oversight include Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah.

No central oversight body oversees amusement park regulation. Florida is a state with a high number of amusement parks, and several major parks are exempt from the Department of Agriculture’s oversight. These parks include Disney World, Universal Studios, and Busch Gardens.

Florida Regulations for Non-Exempt Amusement Parks

The Florida Department of Agriculture provides oversight for amusement park rides aside from the three major exempt parks.

  • The state oversees go-karts, waterslides, and ziplines at carnivals and non-exempt parks. However, the state does not oversee large amusement parks, trade show rides, animal rides, trampolines, or a variety of other rides.
  • Non-exempt rides must receive an annual inspection from a state-qualified engineer or inspector.
  • At non-exempt permanent parks, fixed-site rides receive inspections every six months.
  • State officials can only investigate serious accidents at carnivals and non-exempt parks.
  • Non-exempt parks and carnivals must report ride-related deaths and injuries. Exempt parks, including large parks, do not have to report deaths and injuries to the state. However, Busch Gardens, Disney World, and Universal Studios voluntarily report deaths and serious, hospital-required injuries.

These requirements can leave serious gaps in oversight when it comes to safety on amusement park rides. Thankfully, the chances of amusement park accidents occurring are quite slim. Parks usually have strict safety regulations to maintain their image, as no one would want to visit a park with a bad safety record. However, when accidents do occur, the consequences can be absolutely devastating.

Consequences of Florida Amusement Park Accidents

In 2018, two riders fell 34 feet and several others suffered injuries after a Daytona Beach rollercoaster derailed. Another accident at Universal Studios in Orlando led to a Guatemalan guest’s death on the King Kong ride after he suffered a heart attack and died. Later, the family sued Universal for not providing Spanish translated health and safety instructions for the intense thrill ride.

Amusement park accidents can lead to especially dangerous consequences, from broken bones and fractures to cardiovascular incidents to traumatic brain injuries.

If you suffer injuries due to an amusement park accident in Florida, help is available. You can file a personal injury lawsuit to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, emotional trauma, and other damages. Contact a Florida amusement park accident attorney as soon as possible to learn about your legal options.