Today, many amusement parks contain water parks and water rides. These wet zones may be physically separated from the main park and charge separate admission to patrons or may simply consist of a few rides confined to one corner of the park proper. In either case, these liquid attractions are immensely popular during the hot summer months, and for many, a day at the amusement park would not be complete without going on the water slide or swimming in the wave pool.
Unfortunately, while water-based attractions can be an excellent way to “beat the heat,” they can also cause serious accidents. However, if a theme park is negligent in the way it inspects, cleans, maintains, or supervises the water rides and patrons who visit them, and a person is severely injured or killed as a result, the park might be financially liable for the losses to the victim. If you were hurt while visiting one of these attractions, or if one of your family members was wrongfully killed, you could have a right to claim compensation for the devastating losses you have incurred. Let the experienced water park ride accident lawyers help you seek justice during this difficult and challenging time. To schedule your free and private legal consultation, call us right away at (215) 709-6940.
Types of Water Park Rides
- Water Slide
- Wave Pool
- Water Coaster
- Inflatable Floats
- Speed Slide
- Inner Tubing Rides
- Leisure Rivers
Common Causes of Waterpark Accidents
- Improper warnings/signage
- Inaccurate or failure to enforce weight and height limits
- Water slides can shoot people into pools faster than they can take a deep breath
- Rides demand more physical strength and control than riders have
- Ride failure
- Poor or nonexistent maintenance
- Lifeguard oversight
One of the main problems that cause injury and death on water park rides is that patrons can’t anticipate how their bodies will respond to the components or conditions of a ride. If a rider doesn’t know how to react or adjust and control their body, then they may suffer serious injury or worse, death.
Water flow, water depth levels, and rider timing are all aspects of water park rides that ride operators and water park management may neglect or fail to control properly.
Common Injuries Caused by Water Park Ride Accidents
Many people have been catastrophically injured or have tragically passed away due to accidents at water parks over the years. These incidents do not discriminate by age, gender, or physical fitness:
Injuries that involve water park accidents include:
- Back Injuries
- Bone Fractures
- Brain Damage
- Facial Injuries
- Internal Bleeding
- Internal Injuries
- Neck Injuries
- Severe Blood Loss
- Severed Limbs
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
Some of these injuries might not heal entirely and can affect the life of the victim forever. All of these issues can limit physical capabilities, emotional distress, and expensive medical bill. Victims may lose the ability to provide for their loved ones.
Water Park Injury Risk Factors
People associate theme park accidents with roller coasters and other “extreme” rides. However, water-based rides arguably have even greater potential to cause injury or death if the park violates or disregards any safety procedures. Because many of these attractions appear to be tame, like the gently lapping swells of a pool, the danger of an accidental drowning death or slip and fall accident becomes all the more pronounced.
An analysis conducted by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs uncovered that out of 552 incidents documented over the previous five years, 122 incidents (approximately 22%) took place on water rides. By comparison, roller coasters accounted for only 39.
Water parks are places friends and families go for relaxation and entertainment. Depending on the size of the park, many different types of attractions could be available for the park patrons to enjoy: from various types of water slides to lazy wandering rivers where guests can comfortably float around the park. However, every attraction at a water park presents certain risks. The risks increase when employees or management fail to keep a park safe.
Types of Water Slides and Attractions
Most water parks have several different types of water slides. Typically, a guest must climb a tower of stairs to reach the slide. The congestion of park patrons, especially if they are carrying tubes or rafts, often lead to falls and injuries. When the steps are slippery or lack adequate matting to ensure footing, guests are liable to slip and fall.
Water slides might have height, size, and age restrictions. The risk of an injury increases if a slide attendant fails to enforce these restrictions. In the most catastrophic circumstances, a guest could be thrown from a slide, or a seam could rupture, sending multiple riders to the surface below.
Pools and Drowning
Water parks usually have many pools, including wave pools, discharge pools for water slides, and the famous lazy river winding around the park. Guests could drown or suffer a near-drowning experience, especially if they are struck by another park guest flying into the pool after riding down the slide.
Other Hazards at Water Parks
Water parks require electricity to function. If the electrical systems are not properly maintained or if there are exposed wires, a guest could suffer an electric shock or be electrocuted because of the excess of water.
Water parks are filled with wet surfaces and hard edges. It is not hard to imagine someone losing their footing on a slippery surface and injuring themselves. Water parks should ensure that thoroughfares have proper matting or a rubber surface to decrease the risk of falls.
Water Parks Lack of Safety Enforcement
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) doesn’t have the authority to maintain the safety of rides permanently fixed to a site. Instead, the organization only has authority over mobile rides that travel, like the ones found at County Fairs and carnivals. This is despite a CPSC report in 2005 demonstrating that injuries on fixed-site amusement park rides from 1997 to 2004 increased by nearly 25 percent as the number of park visitors only increased by 9.3 percent.
Exempting fixed-site amusement parks and water parks from federal regulation is a grave mistake, and far too many lives are negatively affected by such disregard for consumer safety.
The World Water Park Association (WWA), which is the prime water park organization in the United States, has estimated that there are more than 1,000 water parks and similar establishments across the nation. The organization also estimates that 80 million people visited water parks in 2011. How can the safety of millions simply be brushed off as if it doesn’t matter at all? Profits. The water park industry is highly profitable, yet neglects to ensure that paying and trusting customers are as safe and informed about dangers as possible.
Suing for Drowning at Water Parks
Drowning is probably the most obvious danger specific to water parks. Unfortunately — whether the setting is a swimming pool, a lake, the ocean, or a water park — the victims sometimes go unnoticed, because drowning does not look the way many people assume it will. Contrary to popular belief, drowning does not usually involve screaming, thrashing, and splashing: in fact, just the opposite. More frequently, these accidents are actually very subtle. Look out for warning signs such as:
- An angled head that is tilted forward or back dramatically.
- Bobbing, repeatedly sinking below and reappearing above the waterline.
- Failure to shout, wave arms or move.
- Glassy, unfocused eyes, a blank stare.
- Hair obscuring the eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Low position in the water, often with the mouth at the water level.
Slip and Fall at Water Parks
It should also be noted that park visitors do not necessarily have to board a ride to sustain an injury: puddles of fluid and slippery patches can result in slip and fall accidents. The CDC cites accidental falls as the number one cause of fatal and nonfatal injury alike in persons aged 65 and older. Grandparents bringing their grandchildren and other loved ones to parks should be especially mindful of their environment and footing to help reduce this risk.
Liability for a Water Park Injury
If you fall and hurt yourself at a water park, you might consider it a symptom of your own clumsiness. However, most injuries and accidents that occur at a water park are preventable. Often, they are the direct result of negligence on the part of the management, ownership, or park employees. Because of vicarious liability, the park owner could be held responsible for any harm that is a direct result of their employees.
Water Park Owners and Managers
Park managers should have the rides regularly inspected to ensure there are no defects or hazards that could result in injuries such as lacerations or cuts. Additionally, park employees need to be trained in the safe operation and use of the water slides and attractions. If a slide attendant is not paying attention, they could send people down a slide in quick succession, leading to collisions on the slide or in the discharge pool. Failing to report potentially dangerous conditions could also constitute negligence if a patron is later injured.
Third Parties Liable for Water Park Injuries
Third parties could also be liable for your damages depending on the circumstances surrounding your injury. For example, an employee could notice a defect in a water slide that could cut or otherwise injure a guest. They report it, the slide is closed for repairs, and a company is hired to fix the slide. If the repair company fails to correct the issue or creates an additional hazard that is unknown to the water park employees, liability could shift to the company hired to fix the slide. The park could still have some accountability if they failed to inspect the work before opening the slide to the public.
Manufacturers and Designers of Attractions or Equipment
A water park is made up of many parts, from the slides and attractions to the drainage and pool systems. In some cases, a defective piece of equipment creates a hazardous situation or causes an injury. A defected piece of equipment or a poorly manufactured part might not be apparent during a regular inspection of the park or its attractions. For example, a drain cover might have a design flaw or crack from the manufacturing process that causes a guest to suffer a severe injury. In this situation, the company that made the part could be held liable for any damages arising from the injury. More catastrophic injuries could occur when a very tall water slide has a dangerous manufacturing defect or a design flaw that results in patrons falling from the attraction.
In cases where liability arises from a design defect or manufacturing flaw, the injured party is not required to prove negligence. In a products liability lawsuit, the injured plaintiff only needs to show that the defect existed and that it caused the injury. Our water park ride accident attorneys will thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding your injury to ensure all the parties that share potential liability are included in the personal injury lawsuit.
Water Park Ride Accident Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
Amusement park visitors rightfully expect that park owners, operators, maintenance workers, and other employees will take all reasonable steps to help ensure safety for child and adult guests alike. But while most visits will be free of incident, the reality is that numerous water parks have been the sites of accidents in the past. The attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm have more than 34 years of experience litigating a wide variety of water park cases, and we are dedicated to providing aggressive representation for our clients. If you or someone you love was injured, you deserve the benefit of a thorough investigation into your accident to uncover the truth. To schedule a private and cost-free case evaluation, call the attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940, or contact us online today.