Amusement parks are often regarded as carefree and cheerful places where children and adults can relax and enjoy a day filled with wonderment and thrill-seeking rides. California is jam-packed with amusement parks including Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Sea World and Six Flags. Unfortunately, there have been many instances where the fun was cut short as injuries are often sustained by unsuspecting patrons of the roller coasters or other rousing amusements. Park patrons have been stranded on broken equipment, injured when cars derail and impaired by defective rides. These injured guests usually file a personal injury claim against the park and are often meritorious.
California is one of the leading states in amusement park injuries simply because it contains the largest amount of amusement parks in the United States. In a recent study, some of the most dangerous amusement park rides are housed within California’s theme parks. One such incident involved a collision of two roller coaster trains at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. In October, 2010, ten people were seriously injured after one train did not receive enough propel for it to make it over the first incline. It began to roll backwards and collided with the next train waiting to move.
Several personal injuries have occurred at Disneyland, located in Anaheim, California. Throughout the 2000’s, injuries were reported from a severed thumb to fatal falls from roller coasters. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has completed several studies on amusement park injuries and released the most common causes of injuries. Some of the most frequent reasons for amusement park injuries include negligent operation of rides by park employees; many of whom abruptly start and stop rides, fail to properly maintain the ride and incomplete checks of each passenger’s harness or lap restraint. Customer behavior has also been known to contribute to injuries including improper use of restraints, standing or rocking the cars.
Personal injury cases are often filed by victims of malfunctioning amusement park equipment. In a 2009 case, a California woman received a settlement from Disney after she fell head-first from a tram operation within the Disneyland amusement park. Her resulting injuries included a brain hemorrhage, coma and eventual brain damage. In another incident, a California family received $3.3 million in damages after its children were injured on a ride in San Jose. After a ride completely collapsed, ten children were thrown to the ground and dragged by the mechanical components of the ride before the power was eventually cut, stopping the movements of the ride.
Amusement parks have a duty to keep guests safe and free from injury as they enjoy their day inside one of the many theme parks in California. All to often, however, guests are injured by faulty, defective mechanics on the rides or negligent operation of rides by amusement personnel. Personal injury law protects the rights of guests impaired by these types of defects. Whether a guest has been injured by a roller coaster train that has derailed or suffered a water-related injury at a water park, the law recognizes recovery for negligence by an amusement park.