Things to consider before visiting an amusement park this summer

Summer means the kids are out of school, and for many that means a vacation. A theme park can be a fun, all-inclusive way to burn off some energy and keep your kids happy. About 335 million people visit an American theme park each year, and after a year of confinement, investigation found that 72% of consumers are heading for one this summer.

But what happens when a thrilling roller coaster or other ride turns your fun day into a nightmare?

The Six Flags amusement park chain is based in Texas, but terrible accidents or negligence happen in parks around the world. Various incidents have occurred at Six Flags across the country, including in 2013, a woman tests the brand new New Texas Giant Roller Coasterconstructed of wood and steel, was thrown 75 feet to his death.

When you’re queuing to get on a new ride, you probably don’t think about the fact that you could be seriously injured or killed on your ride. Yes, your chances of dying on a roller coaster are extremely low – about one in 16 million. However, there are over 30,000 theme park-related injuries every year, and three or four of them result in fatalities. Quite often 44 states have some form of regulation in place. Some of them are strongly defined; others, not so much. There are no federal regulations on amusement parks, a controversial fact in the industry that some say is negligent.

Ken Martin, ride inspector and amusement park consultant, said BNC News in 2017 that streamlining regulations and the agencies that enforce them would reduce dangerous incidents.

“We have to do a better job,” he said. “We protect our children and grandchildren, and we cannot do that with a patchwork of regulations. We have to sing the same song, the same verse, the same rhythm.

Theme park operators try to prevent these accidents by performing regular inspections according to the ride manufacturer’s specifications on dozens of ride components, such as brakes and assembly. Inspections take place up to three or four times a day. But they don’t catch all possible flaws.

When there is an injury or death at a theme park, it can be very difficult to determine who is responsible. A case of a boy who was fatally electrocuted by a merry-go-round charged multiple people with foul play. Anyone involved with the ride or park, such as ride inspectors, owners and operators, can be found guilty.

Texas Ride Regulations and Visitor Liability

In Texas, every ride must have a compliance sticker. To obtain one, the ride owner must obtain the minimum insurance required by the state and have the ride fully inspected before it is put into operation. You must submit monthly reports on any accident or injury and the current status of your insurance. Every incident should be reported, no matter how minor.

Insurance requirements vary by driving class. A class A tower is any fixed location amusement ride intended for use by children 12 years of age and under; a Class B racing is something else. Class A rides must carry at least $100,000 in bodily damage. Class B rides, which typically break down and move frequently, must cover at least $1 million in bodily injury.

Of course, avoiding injury in a theme park is also the visitor’s responsibility. Many injuries are due to visitors not following the rules, another reason it can be difficult to determine responsibility. Keep common sense and these safety tips in mind can help keep your day fun and injury-free.

  • Obey all posted rules and restrictions
  • Keep hands, arms, feet and legs inside the ride at all times
  • Do not ride if you are sick or intoxicated
  • Secure all loose items before riding
  • Never force children to ride against their will
  • Report any unsafe condition

Theme park injuries can be virtually anything, from broken limbs and traumatic brain injury to whiplash or damage to internal organs. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury while visiting an amusement park, you will need an experienced legal team who can resolve the ambiguities of fault with you. At Cochran Firm Texas, we won’t let you suffer in silence or deal with this alone. Call us anytime at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476), contact us onlineor via our online chat to get started with a free consultation.

Harold B. McConnell