Amusement park injuries and accidents are anything but amusing - and both employees and customers alike are at risk. What are the risks? And how can you recover compensation for your damages if you're injured?

When Owners Don't Pay Attention To Employee Safety

Employees of amusement parks are at a substantial risk of heat-related illness or death if their employers don't have adequate measures in place to look after their employee's health. In a recent case, a teenaged employee working a deep fryer under direct sunlight eventually collapsed from the heat and was further injured on the fryer he was operating. Had his employer put a heat-related illness prevention plan in place, his injuries could have been easily avoided.

It's not just employees working open concession stands at risk, however. Employees in "character costumes" labor in the hot sun inside stifling, furry costumes to entertain kids. Maintenance staff can be walking the park in the heat for hours at a time, combing the ground for litter and keeping the parks in order.

The dangers of heat-related illness and death are very real, especially for workers who aren't acclimatized to the weather in the early part of the summer. Employers should make sure that new workers are given a schedule that allows their bodies to gradually adjust to working in the heat. They should also make sure that employees have frequent breaks in the shade and have plenty of water - as much as 1 cup every 15 to 20 minutes.

When Rides Are Too Dangerous Or Equipment Is Unsafe

Even the safest-sounding rides can be dangerous. Merry-go-rounds account for over 20% of all amusement park ride injuries. Close to 4,000 people a year are injured on roller coasters - but the real figures are likely even higher because not all theme parks provide complete information to those agencies trying to gather statistics.

Many of the injuries are related to the extreme nature of some of the rides, and include things like neck and head injuries that result from patrons being thrown about on gravity-defying rides or whiplash injuries from rides that abruptly start or stop. Other common causes of injuries are poor lighting, slick surfaces near water rides, brake failure on older rides, and poorly designed safety restraints.

When Premise Liability And Gross Negligence Are An Issue

Most of the time, personal injury lawsuits against amusement parks by patrons are based on the rule of premise liability. The amusement park's owners have a duty to make sure that the park and its rides are safe for guests. That includes things like making sure that rides have regular maintenance, operators are well-trained, and warning signs about possible dangers are clearly posted where people can see them.

If you're an employee of the park who gets injured, you may be limited to filing a workers' compensation claim for your injuries - unless you can show that your employer acted with gross negligence.

The difference between ordinary negligence and gross negligence can be difficult to establish. Ordinary negligence is just a failure to exercise reasonable care. Gross negligence is an extreme act - an utter indifference to the consequences of an action. The teen who collapsed at the amusement park while working the deep fryer, for example, might be able to establish gross negligence on the part of his employer, since the dangers of heat-related sickness are so well known.

If you get injured at an amusement park - either while as a guest or as an employee - speak with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. For more information, contact an experienced law firm like Gazewood & Weiner PC