Zip lines have become increasingly popularized in recent years. Once they were nearly exclusively operated by companies that exclusively handled zip line operations, but now they are available to ride at fairs, carnivals, amusement park and even at some tourist destinations. The extremely low cost of a zip-line kit – available online for a few hundred dollars or less – makes them an attractive way to expand a fair or park’s catalog of attractions. However regulatory standards and oversight have not been able to keep pace with their explosion of popularity.
As the popularity of zip lines has increased, so have the number of accidents resulting in serious injuries. If you were injured while riding a zip line or were struck by a rider while on the ground, contact our zip line accident injury lawyer. The Reiff Law Firm has over forty years of experience helping people who were hurt through the negligence of others. To schedule a free consultation to review the facts of your case, call (215) 709-6940.
Safety Standards on Zip Lines
Because there is not a unified federal safety guidelines, the quality of zip line equipment, logistical planning and safety precautions vary widely between operators. Some areas where standards can widely vary include:
Courses must be designed so that riders cannot strike stationary objects during their decent. This includes ensuring that any obstructions, such as trees, are monitored and areas near the ground are clear of pedestrian traffic. Further, even safely designed courses can become dangerous when staff in insufficiently trained or there is insufficient supervision.
The trolley is the object that slides down the zip line. Designs and standards vary widely. Some trolleys may have brakes, but many do not.
Full-Body Harness Requirements
Without a doubt, a full-body harness is the safest type of harness. However, any harness is unsafe if it is not rated for the weight involved or if it is improperly secured.
Presence of a Guide-Wire System
A guide wire system can greatly improve safety by controlling where and how riders may ride the zip line. Further an always connected guide-wire system can prevent deaths from falling off a platform if the participant were to slip.
Standards for Embarking/Disembarking
Getting on and off of the zipline is often one of the most dangerous parts of the zip line experience.
Tower Construction Requirements
Faulty construction, construction on unstable ground or failure to adequately anchor the tower can result in tower collapse. Unfortunately, and tragically collapses often result in death.
A 2012 investigation by NBC 4 Washington further publicized this serious problem. At one facility in West Virginia, a full body harness was utilized along with dual line clips, a harness and a request from the operator for patron to leave all clipping and unclipping to an employee. In contrast, at a facility in Virginia, guests were left unhooked on the top of platforms without any harness to prevent them from falling. Other courses’ safety standards fell somewhere in-between these two extremes. However, it is clear that standards vary widely and some facilities fail to take adequate precautions to protect your health and safety.
Types of Zip Line Accident Injuries
When a zip line failure occurs, catastrophic injuries or death are unfortunately the norm. However, the types of injuries are often dependent on the particular failure or accident that occurred. For instance, when a zip line platform is improperly anchored and collapses, death is often the result due to falling from the extreme heights involved. In circumstances where the height is insufficient to cause death, fractures and broken bones to the lower extremities and spinal injuries are common. When a course is improperly designed or supervised, zip liners can collide with other riders or stationary objects such as trees. In cases like these, injuries can range from death to traumatic brain injuries though in some cases individuals may be lucky enough to escape with severe bruising.
Zip Lines can result in a variety or injuries, from minor cuts to serious ones that cause death. Some of the types of injuries our clients have suffered are listed below.
- Dental damage
- Internal organ injuries
- Lacerations and cuts
- Neck injuries
- Nerve damage
- Scarring or permanent disfigurement
- Serious bone fractures
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Wrongful death
Liability for an Injury Caused by a Zip Line Accident
It is not uncommon for multiple parties to be held liable for an injury caused by a zip line accident. In certain situations, the manager or owner of the property where the ride is physically located could be held responsible. This is especially the case if a zip line travels through a wooded area. If a manager or property owner knows that a branch or other obstruction presents a danger to riders and does not address the problem or fails to monitor the tree growth around the ride regularly, they could be found negligent.
Zip Line Companies
Some zip line attractions are managed and owned by a separate company. These might travel from city to city or carnival to carnival. In many instances, they could be held liable if they failed to operate or set up their ride safely. When a zip line attraction is taken apart and reassembled, the operator must ensure that the ride is appropriately built. This also includes verifying that the path the rider travels is free from any obstructions.
Some common types of negligent conduct surrounding zip lines are listed below.
- Failing to maintain the property around the zip line in a safe condition
- Failing to maintain the zip line tower
- Failing to provide safety equipment, such as harnesses, helmets, gloves, or other standard safety devices
- Failing to fasten passenger into the harness before the ride
- Failing to have a failsafe or braking system installed
- Failing to adequately train the staff in the safe operation of the zip line
- Failing to provide instructions on how to ride the zip line safely
- Failing to keep the path of the zip line clear of obstructions, including people walking near the ground in the path of the ride
Zip Lines and Home Owners
Due to their growing popularity, zip line kits are available for home use. These vary in size and scope and are offered by numerous manufacturers. Homeowners who erect zip line courses in their backyards are not free from liability. If you or your child is injured while riding a zip line at a friend’s or neighbor’s home, you are entitled to seek compensation for any injuries caused by a zip line accident. Often, accidents on home zip lines are caused by misuse or by faulty installation. However, in other cases, the product itself was defective.
Zip Line Manufacturers
Defects could exist in the design and manufacture of both home zip line kits and the larger zip line attractions found at theme parks and carnivals. If your injury was the result of a manufacturing error or design flaw, whether it was in a neighbor’s yard or an amusement park, you could have a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the zip line.
Zip Line Accidents and Victim Blaming
Most people are familiar with the boiler-plate Waiver of Claims & Liability most companies will require a potential participant to sign. These companies often invoke these agreements as a reason why you do not have a claim for your injuries. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer can often devise a legal strategy that may be able to hold the company accountable for their negligence or failure to provide sufficient oversight.
Furthermore, the waivers do not apply to the equipment manufacturers. If your injury was the result of a poorly designed or defective harness that the owner or operator was unaware of, you could still have a claim against the manufacturer.
Call Our Zip Line Accident Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Zip lines are fun. They provide a sense of excitement, danger, and freedom as you glide through the air and amongst the trees. While there is an inherent risk in the activity, it should not be unreasonable. Even if you signed a waiver, all riders should have an expectation that the equipment is properly maintained and designed to function safely. If you or a loved one was hurt while riding a zip line at an amusement park, fair, neighbor’s, or any other event, call our experienced zip line and amusement park accident lawyer. The attorneys and staff at the Reiff Law Firm are dedicated to representing individuals who have been severely injured through no fault of their own. Call (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free appointment to review your legal rights and options.