Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Roller coaster tragedy raises questions about theme park safety

It's no secret that amusement parks have always been one of the more popular summer destinations for both young people and families looking for a day of fun. However, many would-be amusement park patrons are likely considering alternative arrangements following the death of a patron at a popular amusement park last week.

The fatal accident occurred on the 153-foot tall Texas Giant coaster at Six Flags Over Texas just outside of Dallas early last Friday evening. Specifically, a woman visiting the park with her two children was somehow thrown from the ride -- touted as the tallest steel-wood hybrid roller coaster in the entire world -- despite the presence of a locked safety restraint. In a shocking turn of events, witnesses are now reporting that the woman expressed concerns about the safety restraint just prior to the fatal ride.

While the exact cause of the accident has yet to be determined by Six Flags and other public officials, it goes without saying that it has left many people with questions and concerns about the overall safety of amusement parks.

As illustrated below, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions claims to have found that the odds of being injured or killed on a fixed-site ride are very small.

  • The odds of patrons being killed on a ride is 1 in 750 million
  • The odds of patrons suffering serious injuries is 1 in 24 million

While this certainly appears reassuring, consider a recent study by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, which determined that an average of 20 children per day are injured on rides during the peak season, with roughly 67 children injured badly enough to require hospitalization each year.

These numbers coupled with the fact that many injuries often go unreported indicates that amusement parks may not be as safe as certain parties would like you to believe. Specifically, while the risk of fatality is arguably low, the risk of serious and debilitating personal injuries is all too real.

It's important to understand that if you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries at an amusement park -- whether on a ride or in a slip and fall accident -- that you have rights and you have options for seeking justice.

Source: Fox News, "Tragedy on Texas roller coaster a reminder to practice theme park safety," Eileen Ogintz, July 23, 2013

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