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Amusement Parks Largely Unregulated, Injuries Unreported

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School is out and it is time to start the rush to the amusement parks for the latest and greatest ride innovations. This year’s newest roller coasters will drop riders 200 feet and travel at speeds up to 75 mph, held in by primitive one-size-fits-all lap bars and belts. Yet these flying behemoths face no federal regulation or mandatory injury reporting.

Federal rules govern everyday things like cosmetics and tires yet they do not apply to amusement park rides. Roughly 375 million people visit American amusement parks each year but most probably do not consider the danger that goes along with those thrills. What may come as a shock, however, is how difficult it is to find out what the true risks are because serious injuries – and even deaths – are not reported by the parks.

Amusement parks face inconsistent state laws

Critics point out a lack of oversight and uniform laws as a key problem. Surprisingly, there are no federal regulations that apply to permanently standing amusement parks. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission regulates only mobile rides like those at travelling carnivals. Without even mandatory reporting laws, injury estimates are made by the International Associations of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), a trade group that seems to do little to gather actual data.

In the absence of federal oversight, inspection of amusement parks is left to the states. To say the regulation is inconsistent would be a massive understatement. For example, fifteen states do not regulate amusement park rides at all, though a handful require that they carry insurance. The remaining states each have their own inspection schemes ranging from only requiring electrical inspections to investigations by a state agency, as found in California.

Amusement park injury data under wraps

Without federal reports, no one truly knows how many people suffer serious injuries on amusement rides. Data comes from the IAAPA, which relies on voluntary responses to annual surveys that, for some reason, solicit responses from fewer and fewer parks each year. Still, IAAPA’s data suggests there are at least 1,000 injuries each year.

When park ride injuries do make the news, they underscore the danger. For example, last summer three people were injured in two separate accidents at California theme parks, on the same day.

An employee of California’s Great America was struck by a train on a coaster in an accident that injured a rider. Meanwhile, a 10-year-old girl was found unconscious on a roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. She needed to be airlifted to a hospital.

Roller coaster injuries in California

Given the speed and height involved in roller coasters, riders are prone to certain types of injuries including neck and back injuries, broken bones, paralysis, and even death from falls. When faced with one of these injuries, victims may be entitled to compensation that can include medical expenses, lost wages, and payments for pain and suffering.

If you have suffered an amusement park injury in southern California, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney at Ellis Law can help protect your rights. We have been helping accident victims receive due compensation for more than 20 years. To discuss your case and explore legal options, call 1-800-INJURED today.

  1. NY Daily News, The safety of summer thrills: Amusement park risks nearly impossible to know because of terrifying patchwork of state laws or almost no regulation, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/amusement-park-risks-impossible-article-1.2653335
  2. IAAPA, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry Statistics, http://www.iaapa.org/resources/by-park-type/amusement-parks-and-attractions/industry-statistics
  3. Saferparks, U.S. Federal and State Amusement Ride Regulation, http://www.saferparks.org/regulation/agencies
  4. Fox News, 2 injured in California amusement park roller-coaster accident, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/06/14/2-injured-in-california-amusement-park-roller-coaster-accident.html