Amusement park tragedy in Australia raises concern

A harrowing amusement park accident at Australia’s Dreamworld this week reminds us of the dangers inherent everywhere. Inspections are regular at amusement parks to guarantee safety and most assume that, if something did run amiss, it would be the speeding rollercoasters and gravity defying rides.

In Australia, it was a malfunction of Thunder River Rapids, one of the park’s tamest attractions, where four park visitors died in a horrific accident. It’s humbling news that makes everyone think twice about the risks of amusement park rides, even the seemingly benign ones.

Although the accident took place across the globe, Busch Gardens closed its similar Congo River Rapids Raft ride this week as a precaution. On the ride, patrons float across rapids on a circular raft that spins and bounces with the current. Most consider it a family friendly ride.

LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS

In Florida, an amusement park is subject to a premise liability lawsuit if a visitor is injured on their property. It’s the park’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for customers and, although many rides defy gravity or move at high and potentially dangerous speeds, this does not remove their requirement to keep customers safe.

In a severe case, such like the Dreamworld accident, a wrongful death case may also be considered. Wrongful death is a civil filing where the surviving family of a victim seeks compensation for the loss of a life. It comes at the expense of the wrongdoer, in this case meaning an amusement park.

When accidents happen in crowded public scenes like an amusement park, there are damages beyond the tragedy itself. Witnesses and first responders in Australia were traumatized by the event. Whenever something like this happens, witnesses should seek therapy immediately after. PTSD and other symptoms may not immediately surface but keeping a record of treatment and mental health will provide thorough evidence that that event hurt you, while also setting you more quickly on the path to recovery.

Although uncommon, amusement parks and other entertainment arenas are subject to the same safety requirements as any other business. When a visitor leaves the park in pain through no fault of their own, they deserve compensation for those damages.