Amusement Park Injuries

Amusement Park Injuries

Amusement Park Injuries

An amusement park or midway can be the perfect place for a summer outing with family or friends. Splashing down a waterslide, screaming as the roller coaster takes a wicked bend, or plummeting from a drop tower is exhilarating fun! But how safe are Canadian amusement parks? In 1986, three people were killed when the Mindbender roller-coaster derailed at the West Edmonton Mall. The car containing the victims was going 100 km/h when it jumped from the track, throwing three of four passengers to their deaths. (The other passenger was severely injured, but survived.) Other serious incidents include a man killed in a go-kart accident in St. Catharines in 2009, a bungee-jumping death in Ottawa in 2000, and the death of an inspector who was killed while inspecting a midway ride at the Pacific National Exhibition in 1998. Fortunately, these types of deadly accidents are rare occurrences.

In Ontario, the amusement park industry is subject to oversight by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), which performs approximately 2,000 inspections each year. During the year 2016 alone, the TSSA reported more than 900 safety incidents from various fun outdoor activities, including rollercoasters, spinning or lifting midway rides, waterslides, ziplines, bungee rides, inflatables, and go-karts. These incidents resulted in 869 injuries, of which 41 were considered serious. These might include such injuries as head trauma, broken limbs or spine, major crush injuries, or severe lacerations.

More Common Injuries

While the odds of being seriously injured at an amusement park or midway remain relatively low, many people do sustain minor injuries. Common among both adults and children are bruises, contact burns, head and neck injuries, and ligament damage. These types of injuries can be caused by the action of the rides, and not necessarily by any human error or mechanical malfunction. The impact of a “bump” from a bumper car can cause mild whiplash, for example, and back injuries can be caused by the action of spinning or dropping rides. Bruises often result when people are slammed or pushed into the side of a seat. Crush injuries to hands and feet or cuts and abrasions often happen during the “loading” or “unloading” of rides. Waterslide injuries such as concussions or cuts are often due to people colliding with one another on the way down or at the end of the slide.

While both adults and children can be injured at these types of fun outdoor activities, children are particularly vulnerable. A recent study published in the American journal Clinical Pediatrics estimated that an average of 4,400 children visited emergency departments annually in the U.S. because of amusement ride injuries. The Canada Safety Council says incidents in our country are underreported.

What Recourse Do You Have?

If you or a family member has been injured at an amusement park, you may be able to make a claim against the organization operating the facility. Settlements for serious injuries can be large; Toronto’s CNE reportedly paid a six-figure settlement to a girl who was injured by flying debris from a ride in 2000. But even a minor injury can have a major impact on your life. A concussion may prevent you from driving for a period of time, for example. If you commute to work, drive your children to school, or work as a cabbie or a trucker, this restriction could greatly affect your routine and/or your income. A broken toe can prevent you from doing your work as a restaurant server; a crushed finger can hinder your ability to do word-processing work. Any of these injuries might spoil your enjoyment of a planned vacation or a special family celebration. Even simple daily tasks can become difficult or impossible to perform due to a minor injury.

So what should you do if an injury occurs? First, of course, you should get medical attention for the injury. If you are in any doubt at all as to the severity of the injury, get someone to call 9-1-1. If you’re sure that the injury is fairly minor, seek medical attention at a walk-in clinic or hospital ER as soon as possible.

If the injury was caused by mechanical error or operator negligence or error, document as much of the information as you can. Get contact information for witnesses; take photos of the injury and the ride that caused it, and report it to the head office of the organization promptly.

Once you’ve had medical attention for the injury, contact a personal injury lawyer. Lawyers with experience in this area of the law can help you to ascertain whether or not you can make a claim for compensation. Most personal injury lawyers will provide you with an initial consultation free of charge. In addition, the majority of personal injury lawyers will not charge you if they take on your case; rather, they work on a “contingency” basis, meaning that they will take a percentage of any settlement that you receive.

If you’ve sustained an injury at an amusement park, be sure that you get the compensation you deserve.