Florida is home to eight of the nation’s top 12 amusement parks — Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld, for example — as well as dozens of others that do not make national rankings. Even during the tough economic times of 2009, Florida’s theme parks drew approximately 64 million visitors from around the state, the country and the world.
Unfortunately, any time people gather in such vast numbers — and particularly when they do so for the purpose of thrill-seeking — injuries are likely to occur. The following provides an overview of some of the most common injuries sustained by amusement park visitors.
Slip and Fall
While tales of catastrophic thrill-ride malfunctions are featured prominently in news headlines, most amusement park injuries have their origins in less sensational mishaps. In fact, a large proportion of personal injury lawsuits brought against Florida’s major theme parks stem from simple slip-and-fall injuries.
Considering the crowds, long lines and general excitement that are the norm in any popular amusement park, the risk of falls is significant. Many such injuries occur as park staff rush visitors on and off rides — particularly around water rides, where surfaces may be slippery or inadequately maintained and where there may be insufficient ground traction or handrails.
Poorly designed or improperly secured safety restraints often lead to whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries for amusement park visitors who ride roller coasters and similar fast-moving rides that jostle passengers in their seats. When an amusement park ride causes a passenger’s head or limbs to be jerked suddenly in a different direction than the rest of the body, it can cause stretching and tearing of muscles, nerves and connective tissues identical to those suffered by car accident victims.
Though the symptoms of whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries often do not appear until several days after the event that triggered the injury, the resulting pain, numbness or decreased range of motion can be debilitating and may last for weeks, months, years or even permanently.
Another common source of personal injury lawsuits against amusement parks is abdominal injury. Like whiplash, abdominal injuries can be caused by poorly designed or improperly implemented safety harnesses, lap bars or other restraints on roller coasters and other rides. The high speed, sharp turns, and stop-and-start motion of these rides can cause safety devices to be pressed forcefully against the abdomen, resulting in blunt trauma injuries. Abdominal injuries from theme park rides can lead to bruising, internal bleeding or organ failure.
If You Have Been Injured at an Amusement Park
See your doctor immediately if you have been injured at a theme park or if you experience headaches, abdominal pain, or muscle pain or numbness after going on a roller coaster or other fast-moving ride. If you are injured at a theme park, you may be legally entitled to receive compensation from the park for your injuries and the expenses associated with them. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, can help you evaluate your options and seek the compensation you need. To learn more, see our amusement park accident FAQs.