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Understanding Amusement Park Accidents

Personal Injury AttorneyEvery year, dangerous amusement park rides injure thousands of people. Often, weekend carnivals spring up overnight. In the rush to open, important safety protocols and double-checks often fall by the wayside. Meanwhile, in the many Six Flags-style amusement parks in Illinois, there is always pressure to make this year’s roller-coaster more edgy than last year’s variety.

These same pressures exist at the product manufacturing level. If a tiny screw or bolt is defective, it could literally bring the entire ride tumbling down.

A Rockford personal injury attorney may be able to obtain significant compensation in these cases. Such compensation includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. If there is clear and convincing evidence the defendant intentionally disregarded a known risk, additional punitive damages may also be available.

Landowner Liability in Illinois

In Illinois, landowners owe the same legal responsibility to paying guests as to people who cut across their parking lot on their way to work.

That duty (reasonable care) is the highest property owner standard in the law. In the amusement park equipment injury context, reasonable care means more than doing the job right the first time. Owners must also frequently inspect equipment to ensure it remains safe to operate.

The trespasser rule is an exception to this general principle. If the victim did not have permission to be on the land and did not benefit the owner in any way (e.g. a gate-crasher), the owner basically owes no duty of care.

Establishing duty is only a part of the puzzle. Victim/plaintiffs must also establish knowledge. Occasionally, “smoking guns” show up in discovery. But typically, Rockford personal injury attorneys must use circumstantial evidence to establish constructive knowledge (should have known).

To evaluate circumstantial evidence, most Winnebago County judges use the time-honored time-notice rule. One of the earliest applications of this rule involved a banana peel on the floor. In this case, the victim slipped and fell on a black and gritty banana peel. The court concluded the peel had been on the ground for a while, and therefore, an employee should have picked it up.

Amusement Park Injuries and Defective Products

Sometimes, assembly or maintenance has nothing to do with the amusement park injury. Rather, the ride, or part of the ride, might have been defective. Common types of defective products include:

  • Design Defect: In the 1970s, Ford built cars that had gas tanks outside the rear axle. So, they were prone to rupture and explosion, even in low-speed crashes. There’s evidence that Ford knew about this risk, but refused to address it, because the fix would have been costly. That’s a classic example of putting profits before people.
  • Manufacturing Defect: Takata did basically the same thing in the 1990s. They replaced a reliable airbag chemical propellant with a cheap substitute than cause airbag explosions. These defective airbags caused a number of deaths and serious injuries.

If the product was defective, the product maker is usually liable for damages as a matter of law. Victim/plaintiffs need only establish cause.

Count on Dedicated Attorneys

Amusement park accident victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. You have a limited amount of time to act.