Amusement Park and Water Park Accidents

Whether it’s Carowinds that straddles the North and South Carolina border, Wet N’ Wild in Greensboro, the annual State Fair in Raleigh, or the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, amusement parks and water parks in North Carolina are a big draw for the young and young at heart.

While thrilling, these attractions can also pose potential dangers. In 2012, over 40,000 people across the United States required medical treatment for injuries, according to the Insurance Information Institute. More than 1,000 of those injuries resulted in death.

At the 2013 NC State Fair, the “Vortex” ride was immediately shut down when four people – all from the same family – were thrown from the ride when it started again suddenly as riders were disembarking. Operator error was a factor. Various family members suffered spinal cord, brain, and neck injuries, many of which were so severe that life-long medical care was estimated at $30 million. The family sued for $150 million and eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.

A 2013 study by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, found that in the 20 years spanning 1990 to 2010, 92,885 children under 18 were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for amusement ride-related injuries – or an average of 4,423 per year. More than 70% of those injuries occurred in May through September, for an average of 20 injuries per day during the summer months.

The report also illuminated the flawed way in which various amusement and water parks are regulated. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is responsible for overseeing and investigating injuries at temporary parks, such as carnivals and county fairs, but they do not inspect the rides. While the commission sets safety standards for the parks, those standards are not mandatory and it is up to the company that owns the rides to decide whether to comply or not.

Fixed-site facilities are overseen by state and local agencies (not federal). As a result, regulation and inspection of fixed-site amusement and water park rides are left up to the state or local municipality.

This crazy quilt of regulatory processes can result in oversights, which can, and have, led to serious accidents and injuries.

Liability in Amusement and Water Parks

Improper ride operation. Ride operators can be inattentive or improperly trained, as we saw with the Vortex operator at the North Carolina State Fair in 2013.

Inadequate inspection. Parts break, rust, wear out, or are sometimes faulty. Ride parts must be inspected adequately and often to try to ensure the safety of riders.

The risky nature of the ride itself. Some rides may be dangerous for people who do not meet certain height or weight requirements or for those with certain health or physical conditions. These rides should have clear warning signs posted and ride operators must take reasonable care to ensure that riders who are obviously unfit for a certain ride do not board.

Mechanical or structural failure. An accident may be the result of a manufacturing defect or the park’s failure to properly maintain or inspect the ride often enough.

Food poisoning. Improperly handled or undercooked food could cause bacterial infections as could inadequate hand sanitation. Mislabeled foods with potential allergens can become life-threatening.

Water park liability. Adding too much chlorine or other toxic chemicals in the water, improper lifeguard training, not staffing enough lifeguards, faulty filters, equipment malfunction, and operator error can lead to injuries.

North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

If you or a loved one were injured at an amusement park or water park, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a FREE case evaluation. You could be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or wrongful death.