The summertime brings all sorts of fun: festivals, bbqs, trips to Six Flags and the water park. But what happens when someone is injured? What do you do?
An article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch from July 6, 2018 discusses a recent injury suffered by a woman riding a new water slide at Six Flags - Hurricane Harbor outside of St. Louis. The woman alleges that she suffered whiplash while riding the slide. So who is responsible?
Amusement park rides are regulated by lots of rules and safety procedures, but it can depend on the state or even local regulations depending on where the park is located. Generally, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) develops international standards for amusement park ride safety regulations, but these regulations are voluntary! They do represent a consensus in the industry for safety, but what if the ride you are injured on is not covered or required to be tested?
The definition of an amusement park ride is a good place to start. The Missouri Department of Public Safety defines a ride as:
- Any mechanical device that carries or conveys passengers along, around or over a fixed or restricted route or course or within a defined area;
- Any dry slide over 20 feet;
- Any tram, open car, or combination of open cars or wagons pulled by a tractor or other motorized device, except hayrides and those devices that are used solely to transport patrons to and from parking areas or those used for guided or educational tours;
- Any bungee cord attraction or similar elastic device;
- Any climbing wall over 10 feet in height except for not-for-profit entities that follow the YMCA Services Corporation's Climbing Wall Safety Guidelines or the Boy Scouts of America Guidelines.
So, as the Post article discusses, water slides are not covered! No mechanical device that conveys passengers, it is not a dry slide, no tram or open car, no bungee, no climbing wall! They must pass sewer and water cleanliness tests, but there is no one, at least in Missouri, that tests water slides for rider safety!
We handle amusement park ride claims and have discussed these claims with focus groups to see what people think about amusement park ride safety. These claims come with some tough questions:
1) If the ride passes state inspection, is the park still at fault for injury?
2) If there are no state safety regulations, must the ride owner still test the ride for safety?
3) What about "ride at your own risk" signs? Is that a complete defense?
Given the complexity of these issues, it is important that if you are injured while riding an amusement park ride or water slide, you contact an attorney so that they can ensure the proper investigation takes place and your claim is handled appropriately!