Recently, two Texas teens fell over 12 feet off a carnival ride and were injured. One of the two teenagers sustained serious injuries, and the other was left with minor injuries. Some witnesses commented that the ride operator had not shut the door to the ride. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions found that over 1,200 people were injured on rides in 2011.
The amusement parks in Texas operate under the rules of the Texas Department of Insurance. Although there is significant oversight of parks, there are many similar accidents in Texas. The most likely reasons for amusement park injuries are mechanical failures such as lap belts or other restraints that don’t work, operator errors such as improperly maintaining the ride, and customer actions such as standing up or sitting improperly.
If you are hurt on an amusement park ride, you may suffer significant injuries. Three types of liability may apply if you are hurt or a loved one is killed on a ride: negligence, premises liability, and product liability. The most straightforward theory is negligence. In Texas, negligence is conduct that is less careful than what a reasonable person would do to avoid the risks of injury to another. For example, in the case described above, the operator could be found negligent for failing to close the door of the roller coaster ride. Operator error is one of the most common causes of injuries on roller coasters.
Premises liability cases hold the owner or occupier of real property liable for the injuries of those that are hurt because of something dangerous on the property. Unlike negligence cases or product liability cases, premises liability cases involve a location where the occupier or owner or its agent was negligent. For example, if you were hurt while walking past a broken roller coaster that the amusement park knew or should have known was defective and might jump the rail, you would probably have a premises liability case. The danger in an amusement park case could be a wide range of things, such as an improperly constructed balcony, a dangerous animal, or a failure to have appropriate security measures.
Product liability cases are those in which a manufacturer, supplier, distributor, or retailer of a product, such as a roller coaster, can be held accountable for the injuries caused by the product. Product liability can arise from manufacturing defects, design defects, lack of appropriate warnings, or breach of warranty.
There is a manufacturing defect when a product that is otherwise safe proves to be dangerous because it is assembled improperly or with a part that has a defect in it. For example, a roller coaster car that was assembled with an important bolt missing, which as a result gets detached from the rest of the roller coaster, causing injury to its rider, may be found to have a manufacturing defect. In that case, the manufacturer will be held liable. A design defect exists when the flaw lies in the way the roller coaster was designed, rather than how it was built. For example, a miscalculation in how the lap belt fits across the lap could result in the lap belt flying up, even if it was properly secured by the operator.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury on somebody else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation, including medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering. It is important to retain an attorney with experience litigating premises liability cases in Texas. The experienced San Antonio personal injury attorneys at Carabin & Shaw may be able to help. Call our office for more information at 1-800-862-1260.