Amusement Park Safety Lawyers in Dallas

There are few things more enjoyable then hanging out with family and friends at a theme park- unless disaster strikes and you or a loved one sustains a serious injury. In 2000, there were an estimated 10,580 emergency room-treated injuries associated with fix-site and mobile amusement rides. Children composed the largest demographic in which injuries took place. As public places of entertainment, amusement parks are responsible to protect patrons and must follow the applicable safety guidelines.

Amusement park standards are set by the American Society for Testing and Materials International, F-24 Committee on Amusement Rides and Devices. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, "In addition to a through set of internal mechanical, electrical, design and operational safety checks and standards, fixed-site amusement rides are subject to one or more layers of independent examination: state and local government, insurance companies and private safety firms." Injuries and deaths (see wrongful death) that have happened recently in the United States include:

  • A girls' feet were severed on a ride at Six Flags
  • A man was killed after being speared in the chest and head by a part of a locomotive ride that had become wedged in the tracks at Disneyland
  • A woman at a state fair was struck by a decorative panel from a whirling ride- she sustained head lacerations
  • A man died after being struck by the whirling arm of an amusement park ride
  • A man was treated for head laceration and shoulder pain after getting stuck on a zip line- an employee who attempted to help him, collided into him
  • A girl was thrown out of a water slide and knocked unconscious
  • A woman was partially scalped when her hair got caught in the axle of a go-cart

What does 'negligence' look like?

Examples of theme park regulations include: minimum height limits, annual inspections of equipment, and proper training of ride operators and technicians. In 2004, an amusement park's general manager was charged with second-degree murder after a patron plunged 60 feet to her death. The harness she had been strapped into failed, as the process in which the cables were attached, bypassed important safety regulations.

While the manager's charges were eventually reduced to reckless homicide, this example illustrates negligence and the responsibility theme park officials have to keep their patrons safe. If you have been injured in an amusement park accident, you should fight for medical and punitive damages.

Theme Park Regulations in Texas

In Texas, amusement ride safety is governed by Insurance Code, Article 21.60. Amusement Ride Safety Inspection & Insurance Act 28 TAC, Subchapter J. §5.9001-5.9014, Rules to Implement the Amusement Ride Safety & Inspection Act. Signage must be posted so that consumers can report an unsafe ride. This signage must contain a contact person and a number- this law applies to "all amusement parks, fairs, carnivals, [and] attractions at public entrance."

The theme park insurance requirement is $100,000 per occurrence with $300,000 aggregate for Class A Rides and not less than $1 million per occurrence for Class B Amusement Rides. Annual inspection must also be conducted- the inspection certificate is then submitted to the Texas Department of Insurance for review. Inspectors must be professionally qualified by the insurer.

In summary…

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is the administrator for the Amusement Ride Safety Inspection and Insurance Act, Occupations Code Chapter 2151. An amusement ride owner must file for insurance with TDI- and this policy must provide a minimum limit for bodily injury and an annual amusement ride safety inspection certificate. Each ride that passes TDI guidelines, should display a sticker prominently for riders to see. Besides having a compliance sticker, amusement park rides should also have a sign informing the public about how to report an amusement park ride that appears to be unsafe and should have a sign concerning height/weight restrictions for the ride.

Most Common Factors that Contribute to Injuries

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that the factors that most often contribute to amusement park injuries are as follows:

  • Consumer behavior: intentionally rocking cars, standing up, defeating safety restraints, sitting improperly, holding a child above the safety restraint
  • Operator behavior: abruptly stopping the ride, improperly assembling or maintaining the ride
  • Combination: For example, operator suddenly stops a ride when he hears an unusual thumping sound due to a bent rail
  • Other: rides that injure people while apparently functioning normally, without any unusual behavior on the part of the consumer or operator. An eye hemorrhage is an example of an injury that could be sustained at no fault to the consumer or operator.

If you have been injured in an amusement park accident, contact Zinda Law Group today and we will investigate every detail of your case. If negligence was involved, our Personal Injury Lawyers promise to employ 100% of our efforts towards fighting for the compensation you deserve!