California is home to some of the biggest, and most popular, amusement parks in the United States. However, the popularity of CA amusement parks also means that a lot of people in the Golden State suffer injuries in slip & fall accidents and ride accidents every year. Whether it’s a visiting family that has come to California to go to Disneyland or a local resident who frequents one of the state’s popular waterparks, amusement park accidents resulting in significant personal injuries are not uncommon.
A couple of high-profile amusement park accidents in other states in recent weeks have raised serious concerns about amusement park safety all across the country. One of the accidents occurred at a county fair in Tennessee, with three girls sustaining serious injuries after the Ferris wheel they were riding malfunctioned. The girls were in a cabin that got caught on another Ferris wheel cart, causing the cabin to spin and sending the young kids hurtling to the ground below. It has been estimated that the victims feel from as high as 45 feet above the ground. One of the victims sustained a significant head injury as a result of the Ferris wheel accident. Afterwards, the operators of the Tennessee fairgrounds shut down all rides until officials could perform close inspections and ensure that the rides were safe for site visitors.
Another amusement park accident in recent weeks had an even worse outcome. A 10-year-old boy was riding a water slide at Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark in Missouri when something went horribly wrong. The boy, who was riding on a raft with two other people, ended up being thrown from the raft as it approached the tail end of what is advertised as “the world’s tallest water slide.” Horrified people who witnessed the aftermath of the water slide accident screamed as they saw that the boy had sustained a catastrophic neck injury. (Later reports indicated that the victim was decapitated on the ride.) The other two individuals on the raft also suffered serious physical injuries.
California Amusement Park Safety
The recent amusement park accidents in Tennessee and Kansas have prompted calls for greater scrutiny of amusement rides. Perhaps nowhere are the calls louder than in California, where millions of people visit the state’s extremely popular amusement parks every year.
The reality is that the regulations governing amusement parks and requiring safety inspections in California are complex, with different types of amusement rides being subject to different safety requirements. For example, the California Amusement Ride and Tramway Unit (ART), which is tasked with inspecting and approving all amusement rides under the California Labor Code, inspects both temporary (portable) amusement rides and permanent amusement rides. Importantly, there are different standards for each type of amusement park ride.
Regardless of the specific safety standards imposed on amusement park operators, the legal standard of care for anyone who owns, maintains, or operates property in California is generally the same. Under premises liability law, the owner of a piece of land has a legal duty of care to ensure that visitors are not injured by a defect on the property. If the property owner does not take steps to correct the defect, they must notify site visitors of the potential safety hazard. This means that California amusement park operators who negligently maintain rides may be subject to a personal injury lawsuit in the event that someone is injured at the park.
For additional information, read the ABC7news.com article, “Ferris Wheel Accident and Water Slide Death Prompt Safety Concerns Nationwide.”