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August 6, 2010

Amusement Park Injuries and Florida Theme Park Lawsuits

Millions of people visit amusement parks each year in the United States. Disney is the first name that comes to mind, but there hundreds of parks in the country that draw large numbers of people as well. According to the Themed Entertainment Association, 119.1 million people visited Disney attractions in 2009. With such a large number of people visiting amusement and theme parks each year, unfortunately, injuries and deaths occur, and some stories make national headlines. Just recently, on July 30th, a 12-year-old girl from Parkland, Florida, was critically injured at a Wisconsin amusement park when the safety net in Terminal Velocity, a free fall ride, was not used properly, causing her to fall 100 feet. The girl's father says it is likely his daughter will have some paralysis, and he has filed a lawsuit against the amusement park. Police say the fall was due to operator error. The park, Extreme World, which closed down for two days following the accident, is now open again.

According to Saferparks.org's federal data, 8,800 injuries were linked to amusement rides in 2006. Last spring, the Orlando Sentinel published a list of the top five theme park rides in Central Florida with the most lawsuits in a five-year span (from 2004 to 2008):

  1. Universal Orlando's Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls
  2. Epcot's Mission: Space
  3. Wet 'n' Wild's The Black Hole
  4. Islands of Adventure's Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rate Barges
  5. Hollywood Studios' Rock 'n' Roller Coaster

Florida Theme Park Lawsuits: Slip and Falls Top List

The Sentinel also published a report on personal injury lawsuits filed against Central Florida theme parks from 2004 through 2008. At the top of the list are trip or slip and fall lawsuits, which make up almost half - 46 percent - of the lawsuits filed. According to the report, it is rare that a lawsuit goes to trial; most cases are settled out of court, and the majority of settlements are kept secret. Only seven cases during this time period were tried in court.

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April 10, 2009

Family of Boy Killed on Amusement Park Ride Receives $1.25 Million

The family of a Connecticut boy fatally injured on an amusement park ride in New York received a $1.25 million settlement from the county which owned the park.  The boy died after leaving his seat and eventually drowning after he received a blow to the head.  The amusement park was admittedly understaffed at the time of the young boys death according to reports.

The coming of spring and summer brings patrons of amusement and water parks out in droves seeking to free themselves of the winter doldrums or cool themselves from the scorching summer sun.  In areas like Florida, the warm, pleasant climate brings people from far and wide to the parks in Orlando and to the water parks, fairs, amusement parks, and carnivals of Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties.  Because of the large number of people that visit amusement parks throughout the country on a yearly basis, it is important that the rides be properly inspected and maintained, the grounds be properly kept in a safe condition, and security be in place to protect and respond to all situations in order to avoid amusement park ride injuries and deaths.

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimated that 1,783 injuries occurred in 2005 at 398 fixed site amusement parks.  The NSC, in its report prepared for the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, estimated that approximately 4 deaths occur every year at these parks.  However, others say the actual number of injuries and deaths at amusement parks is higher and call for stricter regulation of the rides and facilities.

It is imperative that the owners of amusement parks, fairs, water parks, and the like maintain their equipment to the highest safety standards.  It is extremely difficult for patrons of the parks to determine how safe a ride is when those rides are being advertised specifically for their enjoyment.  It is also almost impossible for these park-goers to determine if a ride or attraction is in disrepair and the potential harm the ride may cause them.  People that are injured in amusement park accidents should contact an attorney to ensure that their rights are protected to the fullest extent.

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