- January 6, 2022
- Jed Strong
- Personal Injury
Amusement parks are a great way to spend time with friends and family. They provide many outlets for thrill-seekers and those who want to relax. However, not every trip to an amusement park is all fun and games. When an accident happens, a fun day can quickly turn into a nightmare for your whole family.
Wild Waves Theme and Water Park is located in Federal Way, WA. It has several thrill rides, from The Wild Thing to the Timber Axe and features unique zip line rides and bungee jumping. The water park also has a lazy river, several water slides, and other water activities.
While amusement park accidents are somewhat rare, especially compared to car accidents, they can be very serious when they occur. For example, in 2016, a 32-year-old man drowned at Wild Waves Theme Park, reportedly after being injured from a jump in the activity pool. Thankfully, most amusement park accidents are not this serious, but even minor accidents will often lead to legal liability for the amusement park owners.
An Overview of Amusement Park Accidents
Approximately 30,000 amusement park injuries occur every year. According to one source, the chance of being injured on a ride is one in about 16 million. In comparison, you have a one-in-700,000 chance of being struck by lightning (or one in 15,300 in your lifetime).
Many accidents at amusement parks involve children. Most fatalities occur on roller coasters, with whirling rides coming in a close second.
However, unless the accident is serious, it can be difficult to know exactly how often amusement park injuries occur. Some minor accidents are not reported, so amusement park accidents may occur more frequently than the statistics show.
Examples of amusement park accidents include:
- Water-related and drowning accidents on water rides and lazy-river attractions
- Brain damage, including aneurysms, from roller coasters and other thrill rides
- Cuts, bruises, and broken bones
- Stroke due to the trauma from a ride
- Head, neck, and back injuries from being whipped around on rides and being bumped (such as on bumper cars or bumper boats).
This list is just a small sampling of injuries that might occur at an amusement park.
Why Amusement Park Accidents Occur
General Premises Liability Concerns
First, it is important to point out that you can injure yourself at an amusement park both on and off a ride. The amusement park management and owners have a duty to you as a visitor to keep the park safe, which applies to rides and the park grounds themselves.
For example, imagine that you injure yourself because you slipped and fell while walking to a ride. In that situation, you may still have legal options to recoup damages for your injuries through a premises liability lawsuit. You do not have to be injured on a ride or attraction to start a lawsuit against an amusement park.
Amusement park rides, even the water attractions you will see at Wild Waves Theme Park, all have internal operations that must function properly, so that the ride operates as intended. If there is a mechanical failure, the ride can become unsafe and cause injuries.
Examples of Wild Waves Theme Park accidents caused by mechanical failure might include:
- Electrical problems that become dangerous because of water exposure
- Lap bar detaches during a roller coaster ride
- The ride comes off the tracks
- The structure holding up the log ride breaks or falls
In any of these situations, the failure could be the result of a manufacturing problem (such as a design or manufacturing defect), or it may be caused by a failure to properly maintain the ride.
Improper Ride Operation
Most rides have amusement park employees checking to be sure that seat belts are fastened and lap bars come down properly. They might even strap you in themselves instead of having you fasten your own seat belt. When the operator does not check these safety features or does not use them properly, it can cause serious, life-threatening accidents.
Ride operators often just have to push a button to get a ride started. They may not have many options to slow or stop a ride unless there is a true emergency. However, if a ride stops suddenly because of an error, that abrupt stop can lead to severe injuries in many cases as well.
Passenger Misuse or Failure to Follow Instructions
Not every amusement park accident will be entirely the park’s fault. Instead, some park visitors will ignore safety rules and regulations, such as taking off their seatbelt during a ride or jumping into the water where it is dangerous to do so.
In most situations, if the main cause of your accident at an amusement park was because you were being reckless or failing to follow the rules, you may not be able to bring a lawsuit. For example, a Wild Waves accident lawsuit for injuries on a roller coaster because you jumped out likely will not be very successful. However, if Wild Waves did not tell you to buckle up or did not give you a safety belt, the result could be very different.
The General Dangerous Nature of an Amusement Park Ride
Some amusement park rides are just more dangerous than others. They might be working properly, with everyone doing everything they were supposed to do, but there still could be an injury. For example, thrill rides have been known to cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea. In severe cases, it can lead to retinal hemorrhage, subdural hematoma, or loss of consciousness.
Can I Sue If I’m Injured at Wild Waves Theme Park?
Yes—you can sue any amusement park if you were injured at the theme park and your situation meets specific qualifications.
Claims for Negligence
In most situations, you will have to prove that the amusement park was negligent in some way to be successful in a Wild Waves injury lawsuit. The term “negligence” generally means that someone was careless or inattentive. To have a good outcome in a lawsuit, you must show that the amusement park’s negligence caused your injuries.
Wild Waves Theme Park’s employees are generally considered representatives of Wild Waves. That means that if an employee is careless, that action will be imputed to Wild Waves as if the theme park had taken that action itself. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, but this rule will apply in most cases.
Common examples of negligence at a theme park that might lead to injuries include:
- Failing to properly train staff people about specific rides and safety requirements
- Not warning visitors about the dangers of going on a ride
- Giving riders incorrect instructions
- Not having trained safety personnel (lifeguards are the most common example)
- Not operating a ride properly
- Failing to follow safety rules or protocol (such as waiting the required amount of time to allow visitors to go down a water slide safely).
There are a lot of situations where someone can be hurt at Wild Waves Theme Park or any other amusement park. This list is not exhaustive.
Claims for Premises Liability
Premises liability arises when a property owner fails to maintain a property in a reasonably safe manner. General premises liability rules apply to theme parks just as they would a grocery store, department store, or other commercial property. Maintaining the rides often falls into a premises liability claim at a theme park, but there is a great deal of overlap with negligence claims as well.
Examples of premises liability situations might include:
- Failing to maintain the rides in a way that keeps them safe for guests
- Not inspecting the rides regularly for wear and tear or other problems
- Failing to keep dangerous debris and substances off the sidewalks, walkways, and in the path of rides or activities.
In general, the amusement park, including Wild Waves Theme Park, has a duty to ensure that all of its activities, rides, and other areas are safe for visitors. That means they should keep up with maintenance, test rides from time to time, and stop visitors from going to a particular location or riding a specific ride if there is a chance that it is not safe.
Product Liability Claims
The ride itself may have been designed improperly or put together incorrectly, making it unsafe or unreasonably dangerous in some situations. In those situations, your lawsuit might not be against the amusement park itself, but might involve the company or individual who created the ride on which you were injured. In some cases, the park designs the rides themselves, but in many situations, there is a third party involved in the design and manufacture of the amusement park ride.
Get Legal Help with an Injury at Wild Waves Theme Park
If you have been injured at Wild Waves Theme Park or any other amusement park, you may have legal options. The best way to learn about what you should do next is to talk to an experienced attorney in your area. Call Strong Law at 206-741-1051 to speak to a premises liability attorney and learn more about how our team can help.