Waterslide and Amusement Ride Injuries

We see the headlines about amusement ride injuries all the time, but still we tend to think these rides are safe for ourselves and our families. One of the more recent reports was of a 10-year-old boy who died while on a waterslide in a waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas. This involved the 168-foot “Verruckt” at the Schlitterbahn Park.

So, are these rides safe or not? If we are at an amusement park, a water park, or maybe a county fair where they truck in transportable amusement rides, how can we possibly know if the ride is safe? Nothing could be worse than putting your 10-year-old on a ride, and moments later have that 10-year-old lose his or her life. Yet, we see these injuries happen all the time. Are these injury incidents the result of accidents, or something else?

Hi, I’m Indiana personal injury attorney David Holub. I’m writing this because we deal with these types of cases all the time. In fact, we did a video on the subject a few years back which you can find at amusement ride injuries.  We’ve also previously blogged about the related subject of playground accidents and injuries.

Just by eyeballing a ride it’s very difficult to tell if it’s safe. Here’s perhaps a better way to address the question of amusement park ride safety. Try to look at these rides as complex machines. A roller coaster has many moving parts. So does a waterslide, or one of these gravity defying machines that spin around and hold you against the wall by centrifugal force. What happens if you have a complex piece of machinery and it’s not routinely carefully inspected for defects and dangers? Or, is operated by someone without the needed qualifications and training?

A jet airplane is a very complex piece of machinery, and there are safety regulations that require near constant inspection and maintenance. What if each individual state had its own regulations for jets? Suppose one state required that before a jet can take off with passengers there must be documented compliance with a 1000 point safety inspection made on the day of the planned flight by someone with at least 3 years of schooling or training? Suppose another state only required inspecting the jet just once a year against a 3-point check list by someone who took a 2 hour online course? Which jet would you put your family on?

If the amusement ride you are considering putting your children on is not located in a state that has tough inspection and safety requirements, a red flag should be raised immediately. One of the reports of the recent Kansas City death of a child is that the state was lobbied to permit self-inspection of the equipment.

Why would a company that has safety as a top priority be opposed to state inspection by well-qualified unbiased state inspectors? Why pour lots of money into the pockets of officials just to avoid inspection? Because it’s much easier for a boss to tell an employee to ignore a danger found during an inspection if it is costly to eliminate the danger.  It is much harder to tell a government inspector that you aren’t going to spend the money to make repairs that are needed. Likewise, it’s much cheaper to hire someone to do an inspection who is not highly skilled and trained in how to thoroughly conduct an inspection.

It costs money to make certain that ride operators are trained and familiar with the contents of the manufacturer’s recommended operating instructions and specifications so that they know what is required for safe operation.  It takes money to check safety belts, bars, foot rests, and other equipment provided to make sure that the equipment is retaining passengers in place and that they are not capable of being inadvertently released.

We cannot in this small space describe all of the concerns that are important in the safe operation of amusement rides. However, most of the time, for example in water slide rides, we find that injuries are due to poor training and instruction of the personnel involved in the ride. For example, we’ve had several cases where employees who are supposed to divert people on a water raft near the end of the ride to a safe water pool to avoid injury to the riders, only to find that the employee instead diverts the riders into a concrete barrier where a leg is broken or other injury is suffered.

If you have questions or concerns on the subject of Indiana amusement ride injuries or waterslide injuries feel free to contact our office at (219) 736-9700 and speak with one of our legal professionals.

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