Amusement parks, theme parks, and quasi-amusement parks, such as carnivals, fairs, and hayrides, are a favorite form of family entertainment in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Unfortunately, while these parks are typically safe for visitors, amusement park accidents can cause disabling and catastrophic injuries, such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and paralysis. Even “safe” amusement park rides can cause injury or death. In some cases, amusement park accidents can even lead to the wrongful death of a park guest or employee.
These accidents can be overwhelmingly difficult for the victims and their families, not only physically and emotionally, but also financially. Victims may have thousands or even millions of dollars in medical expenses, lost income, and reduced ability to work in the future. The Philadelphia amusement park lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm understand how traumatic these injuries can be, and are here to help your family fight for justice and fair compensation.
Our award-winning accident attorneys have nearly 40 years of trial experience and have been featured in major media outlets including USA Today, US News, and World Report. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients, and are dedicated to aggressive legal advocacy on behalf of injury victims throughout Pennsylvania.
What Type of Amusement Park Injuries do our Philadelphia Accident Lawyers Handle?
When a ride malfunctions at an amusement park, carnival, state fair, or county fair, it is likely that one or more individuals will be seriously injured. Even if the ride is operating properly, a park visitor or park employee can still be injured or killed while attempting to enter or exit the ride area, or while attempting to retrieve a lost shoe, hat, pair of glasses, or article of clothing.
Whether an injury occurs on a ride or in other areas of the park, the consequences can be fatal or permanently life-altering. At The Reiff Law Firm, our aggressive Pennsylvania injury lawyers have been handling accident claims and lawsuits for nearly four decades, giving us deep practical insight into how and why injuries occur, how amusement parks attempt to deny liability and defend against injury claims, and how the victims are financially impacted, both in the short-term and long-term. We apply our knowledge to create a hard-hitting legal strategy tailored to each client’s case, whether that involves negotiating a settlement or taking the park to court with litigation. Types of amusement park lawsuits we handle in Pennsylvania and New Jersey include:
- Amputation injuries and dismemberment
- Amusement park slip and fall accident injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Bone fractures (broken bone injuries)
- Burn injuries
- Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds
- Facial injuries
- Foot and ankle injuries
- Head and brain injuries
- Injuries caused by falling from heights
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Joint injuries (knee injuries, hip injuries, elbow injuries, shoulder injuries)
- Nerve damage and loss of sensation
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
- Wrist and hand injuries
Our personal injury firm is prepared to investigate accidents involving all different types of rides and attractions, including:
- Bumper cars and go-karts
- Bungee rides
- Carousels and merry-go-rounds
- Drop tower rides
- Ferris wheels
- Haunted houses
- Kamikaze rides
- Kiddy rides designed for children
- Log flumes, wave pools, and other water park rides
- Pirate ship rides
- Rotor and Gravitron rides
- Swing rides
- Teacups, “scramblers,” and other spinning rides
- Tilt-a-whirl rides
When Are Amusement Parks and Carnivals Liable for Injury or Death?
Amusement parks and ride manufacturers have a duty to fabricate and operate rides safely. Unfortunately, issues such as defective products (“product liability”) and operator negligence can cause serious yet preventable accidents. If an operator or manufacturer breaches safety guidelines, the individual or business entity responsible for the breach may be financially liable for any deaths or injuries that result.
In order to recover compensation for an amusement park injury, carnival injury, or injury at a fair, the victim must prove that certain facts, or elements of a personal injury claim, are true. These elements are:
- The victim was owed a legal duty of care by the defendant.
- The defendant breached its duty, either by acting improperly or by failing to act, which is called an “omission.”
- Harm to the victim was a consequence of the breach.
- The victim suffered a medically-diagnosed injury as a result of the accident.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for Your Amusement Park Accident in Pennsylvania
Most amusement parks, hayride, and carnival owners or representatives will not settle a claim unless the victim files a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit. In fact, many amusement park owners aggressively fight catastrophic injury claims in order to discourage other victims from taking legal action. In other instances, amusement park representatives may try to settle as quickly and cheaply as possible, before the victim realizes what their claim is truly worth. For example, the victim may not be able to anticipate his or her future expenses, which can cause the victim to prematurely accept a settlement that does not account for the full scope of financial losses.
For these reasons, it is critically important that you contact an experienced amusement park injury attorney before signing any documents or making any statements to a park owner or representative. Simply put, the park’s initial offer is not likely to cover or account for certain damages, such as ongoing medical needs or future losses related to reduced work capacity and diminished employment opportunities.
What Causes Amusement Park Accidents and Ride Malfunctions?
Accidents at amusement parks in Pennsylvania or New Jersey can arise from a wide range of mechanical errors and operator errors. In most cases, there is a complex chain of improper actions or events preceding the accident, rather than a single mistake. Common risks, defects, and safety issues that can cause amusement park injuries to occur include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Abrupt starts and/or stops
- Damage to ride components during storage or shipment
- Electrical shorts and failures
- Exposed electrical wires and cords
- Failure to post warning notices about potential hazards
- Failure to secure high-voltage areas or other dangerous areas of the park
- Failure to shut off or come to an emergency stop
- Improper assembly or installation of ride components
- Improper height and/or weight restrictions for riders
- Improper machine operation due to lack of proper training or operator misbehavior, such as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol during a shift
- Improper loading and/or unloading procedures
- Inadequate lighting or visibility
- Inadequate security measures, such as missing safety gates or security personnel
- Lack of proper maintenance procedures and/or ride safety inspection procedures
- Loose cables, screws, or other structural components
- Malfunctioning lap bars, belts, harnesses, and safety lock failures
- Mechanical failures, structural flaws, and design defects
- Sharp and protruding parts, which can cause puncture wounds, lacerations, or snare on hair or clothing
Amusement Park Injury Statistics
Over 270 million people visit amusement parks every year, yet surprisingly, there is no official source that keeps a complete record of all park-related accidents. While there is a sample of hospitals that track information about amusement park injuries, this survey does not include incidents from some of the nation’s most popular theme parks, such as several Florida establishments which account for approximately 20% of all U.S. amusement park businesses.
While there is no comprehensive government database for amusement park injury or fatality statistics, the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that the number of serious injuries caused by amusement park rides is on the rise. This phenomenon is largely due to a lack of reliable and up-to-date data about the causes and consequences of amusement park disasters and breakdowns.
Ultimately, accident data for most amusement parks are a closely-guarded secret. In many instances, strict private settlements are requested. The amusement park industry is poorly regulated, and there is no uniform system in place for reporting guest injuries. Innocent consumers have no way of accessing reliable and consistent data, which creates a real risk for families and their precious children.
Pennsylvania Amusement Park Accident Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
Wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases are often very complicated. If you were seriously hurt in an amusement park accident, or if someone you love was killed in a fatal accident at an amusement park, it is critical that you contact a Philadelphia accident attorney for legal help. The amusement park lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm can analyze the evidence and investigate your situation thoroughly to determine matters of liability and can advise you regarding the legal strategies which may be available to you and your family.
With law offices located in Center City, Philadelphia, The Reiff Law Firm handles amusement park lawsuits throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Berks County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and Northampton County. For a free legal consultation, contact The Reiff Law Firm online, or call our law offices at (215) 246-9000.