Chicago is home to many great theme parks including Navy Pier, Six Flags Great America, Pirates’ Cove, Santa’s Village and more! While injuries at amusement parks are rare, they do occur more often than you’d think. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys are often asked, “Can I sue for whiplash injuries sustained on amusement park rides?”
The answer to this question depends on several factors.
Many Chicago theme parks spend millions of dollars on various rides, emphasizing their safety. However, every year, hundreds if not thousands of people are injured on rides inside theme parks, amusement parks, waterparks, and county fairs. And, because many of these theme park injuries slip under the radar, many people don’t realize that you can seek legal compensation for any serious injury, including whiplash injuries, sustained on a roller coaster.
The Chicago whiplash injury lawyers at Curcio Law Offices explain when amusement parks and theme parks are liable for whiplash injuries sustained on roller coasters. Call 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.
Amusement Park Injury Statistics
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission states that an estimated 34,988 people suffered from amusement park or theme park injuries in 2021.
However, according to many experts, most of the safety data from theme park or amusement park rides is extremely limited. According to the International Associations for Amusement Parks, less than 1,500 people are injured on rides annually. But, this figure only relates to permanent fixture rides, as opposed to rides that are set up and taken down for local fairs.
Because of the lack of formal reporting and vague reporting standards for theme park owners and ride manufacturers, the actual figure for annual injuries is potentially much greater.
Common Theme Park Injuries in Illinois
Theme parks and amusement parks feel the need to “up” the ante of their rides in order to draw in a bigger crowd. The more extreme these rides become, the more potential for danger exists.
Some of the most common injuries at amusement parks in Illinois include:
- Back injuries (namely herniated disc injuries)
- Brain aneurysms and traumatic brain injuries (typically from sudden acceleration or deceleration)
- Broken bones and torn ligaments from contact with fixed objects
- Drownings on waterslides and water rides
- Neck strain and whiplash injuries
- Wrongful death
Out of all the injuries listed, whiplash injuries seem to occur more frequently than the others listed for this area.
Causes of Whiplash Injuries at Chicago Theme Parks
Because of the fast movements and sudden acceleration associated with roller coasters, whiplash is a common injury sustained.
The leading causes of whiplash injuries on roller coasters include:
Roller coasters or other rides may experience mechanical failure while guests are on the ride. If riders are positioned high above the ground, severe injuries can occur especially when parts fall off or seat belts fail.
Failure to Follow Park Directions
If a passenger decides to ignore park instructions, such as keeping the seat belt fastened or avoiding un-secure areas, this can lead to whiplash or a host of other injuries.
Ride operators are often underpaid and undertrained. If the park personnel doesn’t check to ensure all passengers are properly restrained, enforce height or weight requirements, or stop the ride mid-cycle, this can lead to severe outcomes as well.
Faulty Design or Maintenance Features
When a machine isn’t designed properly or if the workers install or assemble the ride incorrectly, parts of the ride could lead to ride failure or cause injuries. Examples of these features include protruding objects, exposed electrical wiring, or structural flaws.
Lack of Proper Safety Features
If park management fails to put proper security features in place, this could lead to a range of injuries. Parks should have high fences in place to secure dangerous areas, have quality lighting, warn riders with medical conditions or those who are pregnant of specific dangers for each ride. Additionally, parks should be staffed well enough that employees are able to closely monitor passengers.
Preventing Whiplash Injuries on Roller Coasters
Those who wish to avoid a whiplash injury from a roller coaster should look for roller coasters that have extended back seats that protect the rider’s head and neck. Also, roller coasters that include over-the-shoulder style straps and headrests are typically easier on the neck, and thus better at preventing whiplash injuries.
The best way to decrease the odds of a whiplash injury or soft tissue injury is to be proactive in checking your seat and surroundings. Passengers should ensure that their seat and headrest are not damaged in any way before sitting in the seat.
Most of the time, a ride attendant will check everyone’s safety belts. But, if for any reason, you feel that your safety belt has been tampered with or is insecure, let a staff member know immediately.
Last, even if the staff isn’t presently enforcing the park’s height and weight requirements, do not get on a ride that you’re not eligible for. The height and weight requirements are implemented for a reason. The seats or head rests may not be safe for your size, and this could lead to a spinal cord or neck injury.
What are Common Whiplash Symptoms?
Whiplash symptoms can range depending on the severity of the whiplash injuries. The most common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain or neck stiffness
- Head pain or strong headache
- Back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Limited range of motion
- Blurred vision or other eye problems
- Arm pain
- Jaw pain
- Ear pain
Most of the time, whiplash symptoms will only last a few days and will resolve on their own. You can reduce your whiplash symptoms by applying heat and ice and taking anti-inflammatory medication.
However, if you experience severe pain that’s affecting your day-to-day activities, you should seek medical attention, especially if you think you may need to seek compensation for your neck or back injuries.
Whiplash injuries can drastically vary in severity. In more severe cases, it can damage soft tissue, the bone, or both. These injuries can also lead to whiplash associated disorder.
The symptoms associated with whiplash associated disorder include:
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
- Drug dependency
Severe cases of whiplash and whiplash associated disorder may need extensive physical therapy treatments, massage therapy, or prescription medications to relieve chronic pain.
What to Do If You’ve Suffered Whiplash on a Roller Coaster in Chicago
The actions that you take immediately following a whiplash injury or any other severe injury on a park ride are extremely important for your whiplash claim.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately After Whiplash or Neck Injuries
As with any type of personal injury, your health is the most important aspect. Depending on your symptoms or extent of the injury, you may seek treatment from the park’s on-site physician or have a friend or family member call 911 or emergency medical services.
Once the injured person has received adequate medical care, focus on collecting as much evidence as possible. This can include photos of the ride and injuries, collecting witness statements from other passengers or park employees, etc. You’ll want to keep all of your paperwork including your ticket stubs, police reports, medical bills, records of lost wages, conversations with your insurance company (if applicable), and anything else that could be related to your accident.
Don’t Discuss Injury Specifics
Keep the details of your injury as private as possible. Obviously, you’ll want to discuss the details of the accident with emergency room staff members, nurses, and your doctor. But, apart from those providing medical assistance, don’t discuss the specifics of your injury or medical history with anyone else, including insurance adjusters or any park representatives.
You can confirm that you were, in fact, injured on the premises, but that’s all they need to know.
More often than not, insurance company adjusters and park representatives will try to trick you into taking the blame for the accident or in some way claiming that you’re actually the at-fault party. They may even go as far as requesting medical records in an attempt to find an underlying condition.
If you’re planning to file a lawsuit against the premises or if you’re seeking compensation for your whiplash injuries sustained on a roller coaster, your Chicago personal injury attorney must be able to demonstrate that the other party was at fault for your accident.
In almost every case, the at-fault party will deny fault or avoid responsibility in an attempt to avoid paying out monetary damages. The easiest way to do this is by shifting the blame to the passenger. The insurance company or park administrators will address the rider’s assumption of risk, potential safety errors, and may even point to a tiny-printed ticket disclaimer in an attempt to absolve the park from accident responsibility.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer
When you experience symptoms of whiplash or any whiplash associated disorder, you should contact a reputable personal injury lawyer immediately.
When an experienced lawyer speaks to insurance adjusters and park representatives on your behalf, this can drastically increase your chances of having a successful whiplash injury claim in Chicago.
An experienced Chicago whiplash injury lawyer will know how to respond to the blame-game. They understand how to prove negligence and how to shift the blame right back to the people who were truly responsible for your whiplash injury.
Curcio Law Offices Will Fight For Roller Coaster Injury Victims
If you or someone you love has been injured by the negligent acts of another person or company, then you are entitled to compensation for your losses and the damages caused by the act. Most of the time, park representatives aren’t interested in maintaining responsibility for their lack of care. In order to stand a chance against huge parks or businesses in Chicago, you’ll need a dedicated legal team to back up your personal injury claim.
Our Chicago personal injury lawyers have recovered millions for injured victims and their families. We’ll fight for the maximum amount you’re owed, and we never charge legal fees unless your injury claim is successful.
Call our office at 312-321-1111 for your free consultation today.