Summer vacations in Texas mean a family’s day out at one of the many theme parks and amusement parks that are present all over the state. It’s a must-do for kids. These theme parks and water parks are largely safe, but accidents happen.
When things go wrong, injuries or death can occur. And you’re up against a powerful business with a battery of lawyers. It is in your interests to get in touch with a law firm with a proven track record of successfully representing clients in personal injury lawsuits.
Seatbelts of rollercoasters coming undone, inflatables in waterparks bursting, passengers colliding, riders being flung from rides…these aren’t hypothetical scenarios but real-world events that have resulted in deaths and injuries.
Often, the theme parks are lax in implementing the state and federal rules regarding safety on the premises. Permanent rides in Texas amusement parks come under state jurisdiction.
As summer vacation season begins, people may be wondering just how safe amusement rides really are and what safety regulations apply to these rides. In Texas, and in many other states, amusement ride regulation is spotty – a mix of federal and state laws that aren’t consistently enforced.
Permanent rides in amusement parks are under state jurisdiction, and each state determines how it will respond to accidents. Texas collects accident data from amusement ride operators, but it does not require parks to investigate how accidents occur.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission can investigate accidents that involve temporary rides, such as those found in traveling carnivals. But the CPSC has no authority to investigate permanent amusement rides.
Texas law does require amusement ride operators to carry insurance and have the ride inspected every year. A law enforcement official may, without notice, ask a ride operator to provide proof of insurance and inspection. Even so, traveling rides are disassembled and reassembled numerous times between annual inspections, and that’s why they may be especially dangerous.
The people responsible for setting up, tearing down, and transporting carnival rides often work 14-hour-days and sometimes go without sleep to keep up with the constant movement and relocation of rides. Sleep deprivation raises the risk of making a serious mistake in ride assembly or operation. And many workers have received little to no training on how to properly operate a ride.
The accident reports from permanent amusement ride operators in Texas show a wide range of injuries, the most common being lacerations, contusions, and fractures. These reports often blame the victims, and while it may be true that some ride occupants behave in a way that creates a risk of injury, it’s possible that riders may not understand safety notices, or rides are poorly designed.
In 2013, a woman died after being thrown from the Texas Giant rollercoaster in Arlington. An amusement park accident analyst said the woman’s size may have been a factor in the accident, because the restraints may not have properly secured her. Six Flags Over Texas reopened the ride a few months later with redesigned restraints and a safety notice saying the ride might not accommodate “guests with unique body shapes or sizes.”