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When Are NJ Amusement Parks Liable For An Accident?

swimming pool injuryMore than 100 people are injured at New Jersey amusement and water parks every year. Most accidents are bumps and bruises, say ride owners, but there have been more serious problems suffered by some riders. The more expensive the medical bills and the more long-lasting the injuries are, the more likely a person is to file a personal injury lawsuit.

An April 2014 article in NJ Advance Media states that the Alpine Slide at Action Park is responsible for “more accidents, the majority of the lawsuits and 40 percent of the citations against the park” with a track record of 14 fractures and 26 head injuries. In 1980, a 19-year-old spent eight days in the hospital and died from his head injury after “a malfunction” caused his wheeled sled to derail from the cement track on a curve, throwing him down an embankment and into the rocks below.

In fact, waterslides are the most dangerous type of ride, accounting for 122 of 552 New Jersey amusement ride accidents over the past five years. Next in line were Go-Karts with 45 accidents, Water Rapids rides with 42, Rollercoasters with 39, and Horizontal Spinners with 35 accidents.

“Water parks are kind of the wild west of amusement rides. Water flow can be difficult to predict and you’re not fastened into the ride as securely as you are on a rollercoaster, so your body can shift into unsafe positions,” explains NJ injury attorney David Eisbrouch. “That said, water and amusement parks can be held liable if it can be determined they were somehow negligent in warning patrons of risks, in failing to instruct them on how to ride safely, or in failing to maintain the equipment adequately.”

How common are NJ amusement park accidents and deaths?

According to a NJ Advance Media analysis of data from the Department of Community Affairs:

  • Accidents hit a peak of 167 in 2000.
  • There were 139 amusement ride accidents last year.
  • There have been five amusement park ride deaths in New Jersey, as recently as 2011 when an 11-year-old fell from a ferris wheel in Wildwood.
  • Action Park / Mountain Creek in Vernon had the most accidents, with 25 in 2014 and over 100 incidents over the past five years. Over its 18 years of operation, there were six deaths.

What kind of accidents occur at NJ amusement parks?

Causes for injury listed in the database include:

  • Trip and fall: On July 21, 2014, a woman tripped “on a hole in netting” at the Laguna Kahuna playground in Clementon Park and Splash World and smashed her right front tooth.
  • Exacerbation of existing medical conditions: On June 1, 2014, a rider called for a stop to the Tilt-A-Whirl due to a heart condition. On May 22, 2015, a woman about to board Midi Discovery at Jenkinson’s South when she suffered a seizure and anxiety attack. On August 25, 2014, a guest with a recent shoulder dislocation re-injured his shoulder on the Bombs Away waterslide at Action Park.
  • Rider did not follow instructions: On August 24, 2014, an individual let go of tube handles on the Sidewinder Water Slide in the Land of Make Believe and slid out of the tube. On May 30, 2015, a man was not seated in the tube properly at Breakwater Beach and hit his knee on the waterslide.
  • Mechanical errors: Surfside Pier’s Zoom Phloom broke down four times in the summer of 2014, with two guests requiring removal for injuries sustained.
  • Unknown: Sometimes the reason for an injury is not entirely clear – like on July 5, 2014, when a person riding Zumanjaro at Six Flags reported “persistent neck and back pain after riding.”

When is the amusement park liable for accidents?

A Middlesex County girl filed a lawsuit against Morey’s Piers for an amusement ride accident that occurred on the Sea Dragon pirate ship type ride in 2011. A steel ship mast broke while the ride was in motion, injuring the girl with deep arm lacerations, eye injuries, and permanent facial scarring requiring plastic surgery. Four other sustained minor injuries in the accident.

According to the New Jersey amusement park accident lawsuit, the accident was “completely preventable,” that Morey’s Pier knew the 29-year-old ride was dangerous and the ride’s manufacturer “had long recommended that the mast be either removed or, if left on the ride, subjected to rigorous inspection and maintenance.” An investigation by the state Department of Community Affairs found “significant corrosion” on the mast and securing plate. They noted that a “weld failed and there was no secondary support to keep the mast from separating and falling.”

Speak with an injury lawyer NJ families trust

A New Jersey premises liability attorney at Eisbrouch Marsh will “leave no stone unturned in the investigation of your injury,” says Mr. Eisbrouch. “A day at the waterpark or amusement park should be a safe way to experience thrills. If you’ve suffered an injury, it’s often worth a second look. There can be many behind-the-scenes factors that contribute to an accident.”

He adds: “Beyond the water or amusement parks themselves, many other entities can be held liable for an accident — ride manufacturers, ride operators, maintenance personnel, and even other riders.”

No-obligation case evaluations are offered free of charge and plaintiffs pay nothing unless their case is picked up and wins a settlement or jury award. By law, injured parties have up to two years from the time the accident occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit. Call 201-591-1624 to get started.

  1. NJ.com – Amusement park accidents up in 2014 http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2015/07/amusement_ride_accidents_up_in_2014_action_park_st.html
  2. NJ.com - Action Park: 10 things you didn't know about the notorious amusement park's history http://www.nj.com/sussex-county/index.ssf/2014/04/action_park_10_things_you_didnt_know_about_the_craziest_park_ever.html
  3. NJ.com - Terrified of rollercoasters? More accidents happen on water slides, state data shows, http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/more_accidents_happen_in_water_rides_and_go-karts_data_shows.html
  4. Press of Atlantic City - Lawsuit accuses Morey’s Piers in Sea Dragon amusement ride accident from 2011 http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/communities/lower_capemay/lawsuit-accuses-morey-s-piers-in-sea-dragon-amusement-ride/article_896872dc-03a9-11e3-a897-001a4bcf887a.html