Amusement parks and water parks alike are a great way for families to spend time together and escape the summer heat. As water parks compete for business, more and more elaborate water slides and dangerous rides are created to provide a thrill for their customers. However, shortcuts are often taken in regard to a water park’s duty of care towards their patrons and a result, what is set to be a fun-filled day in the sun can suddenly become tragic.
Texas is home to some of the biggest water parks in the nation! There are around 1,300 water parks operated in the United States, and 85 million people visit them every year according to the World Waterpark Association. In 2015, 4,200 people visited the hospital for water park-related injuries with the most common injuries involving:
- Fractures to Arms, Legs, or Extremities (18%)
- Lacerations (18%)
- Concussions or Head Injuries (15%)
- Sprains to Arms, Legs, or Extremities (15%)
- Contusions (6%)
While many people believe they are safe at waterparks, in July 2015, tragically one drowning for a least 3 near-drowning were reported at U.S. water parks. A review of safety data from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs stated that water slides are the biggest source of injuries among people at amusement parks. Out of the states 522 amusement ride incidents in the past 5 years, 122 of them happened on a water slide. Water rides in general, including lazy rivers, wave pools, surf rides, and water play areas accounted for 40% of all incidents. This may be due to the lack of restraints used in water rides unlike rollercoasters, where people are strapped in tightly.
2019 Texas Water Park Deaths
In recent news, two teens tragically died within days of each other at Splash Kingdom water parks in Texas and Louisiana. According to reports, a 19-year-old male died August 28, 2019 after being pulled from a pool at Splash Kingdom water park in Canton. His death came two days after a 13-year-old boy was discovered face-down in a swimming pool at their other location. The 19-year old was said to be riding the “Volcano” ride where the ride is shaped like a volcano and drops riders in a 10-foot pool.
Texas Amusement Park and Water Park Accidents
Did you know that the federal government does not monitor or regulate amusement parks? The amusement park industry and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions have prevented lawmakers from placing federal oversight of potentially hazardous rides. In Texas, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is responsible for overseeing inspections on of all amusement rides in all of its amusement parks, including water parks. The TDI mandates that amusement park owners and operators submit a quarterly injury report if any injuries occur that result in medical treatment or loss of life.
What Laws Protect Texas Water Park Visitors?
Although the TDI does conduct annual inspections, there is no state agency responsible for investigating accidents, even when they result in the death of a person. However, law enforcement officials can enter and inspect without notice at any time to ensure public safety and may immediately prohibit the operation of amusement park rides it is found to be an unsafe operation or non-compliance.
What makes water park accidents even more tragic is that many could have been prevented. The most common water park accidents and injuries include:
- Slip & Fall
- Diving Injuries
- Defective rides and attractions (falling off rides, back injuries, spinal injuries, entrapment, heart failure from physical/mental stress, etc.)
- Collisions in rides
- Exposure to over-chlorinated or contaminated water
The Red Cross offers tips specifically for water park safety.
A person or entity, who contributed to any injuries resulting from such accidents may be held liable for the injuries incurred. Examples of potential negligence in water parks include:
- Polluted Water
- Slippery and Uneven Surfaces
- Improper Supervision of Rides/Attractions
- Inexperienced Lifeguards
- Poor Maintenance
- Defective Design
- Operation Errors
- Inadequate Safety Equipment
- Concessions Not Held to Health Code
- Lack of Signage
- Improper height and weight restrictions
- Exposed Electrical Wires
Can I File A Claim Against A Water Park in Texas?
If you’ve been hurt at a water park, you can bring a claim against the park if the injury was caused by the direct action of a defective product, employee, unsafe zone or a defective ride under Texas premises liability law. You may be able to recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost Wages
- Physical Pain
- Physical Limitations
- Mental Anguish
Compensation for Injured Water Park Patrons
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed at a Texas water park, then it is important to consult with an experienced Dallas-Fort Worth water park injury lawyer. The board-certified personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Thompson Law Firm offer all water park and amusement park victims and their families a free, no-obligation consultation at 817-803-4610.