Houston is home to some amazing theme parks and recreational spaces such as the Houston Funplex, Flip N’ Fun Trampoline Park, NRG Park, Astroworld Festival, Music Festival featuring Lil Baby, Water Park, and Jumping World. All theme parks are tailored specifically to appeal to their audience and are jam-packed with fun and excitement.
Accidents are probably the last thing on anyone’s mind when enjoying themselves in a theme park, but that does not exclude the possibility of such occurrences.
Tragedies are unpredictable and one can only exercise a certain level of precaution on their end. Responsibility for the well-being and overall safety of the visitors primarily falls on theme park management. Injuries resulting from accidents caused due to the negligence of the theme park workers must be compensated for by the park management.
Since Texas follows the at-fault statute with regards to how it deals with personal injury cases, all victims can sue the negligent party for failing to practice reasonable care and avoid the accidents or incidents in the first place. Accidents may include things like ride malfunction, slip and fall, and so much more. In all such cases, the damages sustained by the visitors can be staggering.
But can you sue the park for your losses?
Yes, as with any liable party, the theme park management too can be made to pay up for your losses and damages if you can prove that their actions or inaction resulted in the said damages. The professional attorneys from McDonald Worley’s office will make sure that your case gets the level of personal attention it deserves and we will work coherently to bring you justice.
This article will cover how you can sue an amusement or theme park for negligence in case you’ve been involved in an accident there.
Some Important Background About Theme Park Accidents
Amusement parks and theme parks are not only meant for kids but all young at heart. However, individuals under 24 years of age are the most likely victims of such accidents, mostly when on a park ride. Yearly, around 4,300 people suffer from injuries in theme parks.
This also extends to funfairs and carnivals, not just to amusement parks.
Note that the park management does not sit idle with regard to safety inspection. This is a standard part of the operation. All parks must ensure that their rides are perfectly safe and inspect them regularly to avoid any accidents.
If an accident does happen, the result can be catastrophic, most people suffer from life-altering injuries and can even perish in the accident. This is not the case every time, but the possibility of death and mutilation is ever so high.
What Are The Common Injuries Sustained By Theme Park Accident Victims?
Further expanding on the last point, the types and intensities of injuries suffered by theme park visitors are many. While the possibilities are too many to list here, some of the most common accidental injuries at amusement parks include:
- Mild brain damage
- Severe or traumatic brain injury
- Spinal injury
- Neck pain
- Neck injury
- Muscle injury
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Damage to the ligaments and tendons
- Critical condition
- Wrongful death
All of the aforementioned can affect the victim in a very serious manner; even a single severe injury can leave lasting effects on their physical and emotional well-being on top of the heavy medical expenses. If you’ve suffered due to such an accident, you should not delay seeking attention from medical personnel and legal help to start battling for your rights!
Why Do Theme Park Accidents Happen?
We’ve already noted that safety inspection is one of the core elements of the standard operating protocol of any theme park management. So, despite all such active efforts on part of the management, why do accidents and mishaps still happen?
One area where the biggest share of the problem lies in the structure of the ride itself which contains many segments engineered together. Any malfunction or damage to this structure can lead to a serious accident, causing severe damage to the visitors.
But that’s not all, here are some of the most common issues or problems that lead to amusement park accidents:
#1) Mechanical Failure
This is by far one of the most dangerous causes of accidents in an amusement park and the threat is ever-lingering. Poor maintenance is to blame here, but even well-maintained rides can malfunction when they’re old. Wear and tear is inevitable since these rides are operated for hours continuously, in some cases, for 12 hours straight.
#2) Human Error/Negligence
The park operator of the ride is a human being, capable of mistakes and misjudgments just like anyone else. However, in some cases, their negligence may be a bit more serious than regular, and since the safety of others is involved, there is no room for distraction, drowsiness, disorderly conduct, inattentiveness, reckless conduct, drug or alcohol usage, and so on.
Theme parks usually have a solid screening process to ensure that all of their park employees have a professional background with no skeletons in the closet.
#3) Failing To Follow With The Instructions
Sometimes, the fault may lie with the visitor for failing to comply with the safety instructions provided, i.e. not following the safety restraint. Ignoring such safety precautions can come at one’s peril, and if it is proven that the victim had willfully and knowingly ignored the warnings of the ride operators, their entire personal injury claim will fall into jeopardy.
#4) Manufacturing Defect In The Ride
The ride itself may be of subpar and substandard quality, making an accident like this inevitable. Industry standards dictate that all rides pass through intense safety tests before being launched for the public. A defective ride can come crashing down, resulting in a serious accident.
#5) Slip And Fall Accidents
All theme park accidents are not riding accidents, some of them are very natural occurrences such as slips, trips, and falls. This may happen due to slipperiness, crowd surge, chemical spill, uneven surface, poor lighting, running into an object, and so on. However, such accidents can also happen while accessing a ride, i.e. if the platform was not adequately cleaned after a spill.
Filing A Negligence Claim Against The Theme Park Officials
Accidents in theme parks or a concert hall may either stem from negligence on part of the park management or there may be some problem with the ride itself. Thus there are two ways of approaching a theme park accident personal injury claim: you can either go for a negligence claim against the park management or a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the ride.
Knowing which way to go is essential for success in your case and certain elements of your case will give your accident attorneys a sense of direction in this regard. If it is revealed that the theme park management through their action or inaction failed to safeguard their visitors against the said accident, then the former will be the case.
Negligence at the theme park may be direct or indirect; if you can prove that the management failed to act responsibly with regards to accident prevention, you can prove that they are at fault for the damages. Your lawyer will assess the details of your case and see if your injuries can be linked with the negligence of the park management.
Here are the key elements that support such a claim:
- You were injured because of some unsafe condition/element in the theme park
- The said safety risk was known to the park management
- Knowingly, the park management failed to repair or fix the said issue
- Your injuries would not have happened if it were not for the aforementioned safety risk
This is also true for concert deaths in a country music festival due to the negligence of the concert organizers who exposed the visitors to a dangerous condition.
Filing A Product Liability Claim Against The Theme Park Management
However, if it is the ride that malfunctioned, leading to the accident, not due to poor maintenance but due to some manufacturing defect that the maker failed to address in time, then your personal injury claim will become a product liability claim.
In this case, your lawyer will prove that the manufacturer failed to ensure complete safety when designing the said ride and that this safe flaw was the cause of the accident. Any problems with the structure of the ride will be highlighted in this case and your lawyer will link them to your injuries, thus showing that you were in an accident due to problems with the ride itself.
Proving Your Theme Park Injury Claim
You can do a great deal to ensure that you get the financial compensation you rightfully deserve, this includes your actions at the accident site. Though it may not be possible in all cases, if you can gather the strength, you can complete some preliminary steps to safeguard your position in the case.
These steps include:
- Taking photographs of the accident scene and your injuries
- Making videos as needed
- Gathering firsthand evidence of negligence or product defect
- Calling 911 (police officers) at the spot and reporting the said incident to the Houston Police Department
- Gathering contact information from the witnesses
- Seeking medical attention (from one of the nearby hospitals) as soon as you can
After this, you should contact a professional amusement park accident lawyer and let them sort out this mess and get you compensated for medical costs and other losses.
Financial compensation for your economic and non-economic damages is your right and you should demand it as such. The insurance adjuster representing the park may try to trick you into accepting part of the blame, even if you were not at fault so they only have to pay you a small sum in reimbursement.
This is why it is never a good idea to handle such delicate matters on your own.
Your case is very personal for us because we don’t see our clients merely as such but also as people who’ve suffered due to someone’s indifference or negligence. This should not be the case! If you were wronged by the deliberate negligence or recklessness of someone else, you must gather yourself and prepare to file your compensation claim.
We will see to it that justice is done!