Deaths and serious injuries from unsafe amusement park rides in recent weeks are a reminder of the long history of tragedy associated with such attractions. Just a year ago, three girls suffered serious injury when they fell from a Ferris wheel at the fair in Greenville, Tennessee. At about the same time, a 10-year-old boy was killed on a water slide in another state.
The most recent disaster was the incident in July when a part of the ride "Fire Ball" broke apart in mid-air, killing one ride occupant and injuring seven more. A striking statistic published by a federal consumer protection agency reports that since 2010 there have been at least 22 fatalities caused by thrill rides. A shocking estimate by the same agency says that there were about 30,900 injuries caused by amusement park attractions in 2016 alone.
Negligence as usual is a major factor in determining liability for defective rides. The owners and operators of these usually-safe attractions have a high duty to inspect the machines for defects and weaknesses on a regular basis. Due to the obviously dangerous nature of the instrumentality, the operator will generally be liable to pay damages for mechanical or other safety mishaps that cause injury or death.
The only scenario in which ride operators may escape liability is where the customer was flagrantly reckless, incurring the danger voluntarily or by wanton behavior. In addition to the ride operators, the manufacturer may be liable for personal injury and death where it can be shown that there was a manufacturing defect in the design of the machine. The persistence of government regulators and inspectors in Tennessee and around the country is also an important factor in reducing the incidence of these tragedies.
Source: ibtimes.com, "Horrific Accidents On Amusement Park Rides Highlights Need For Safety", Shreesha Ghosh, Aug. 26, 2017