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A Roller Coaster of Emotions — Have You Tripped, Fallen, or Injured Yourself at a Theme Park?

roller coaster injury

We all love the thrill of a roller coaster, but are we putting ourselves in danger every time we board these rides? Amusement park accidents are always a possibility — and traumatizing is an understatement when describing these accidents’ impact on victims. A rider can face serious injury or tragedy as a result of machinery malfunctioning or a violation of safety regulations.

While this does not necessarily mean you should avoid roller coasters altogether, it should be a cause for concern. These amusement park accidents are not common, but the casualties can be irreversible when they occur. We will discuss the history of injuries in amusement parks, the most common injuries in these parks, and the most dangerous rides so you or your loved one can avoid becoming an example for future generations.

History of Injuries in Amusement Parks

You’ve probably heard the horror stories about people who have suffered a severe injury — or worse — at the hand of a malfunctioning ride, a negligent roller coaster operator, or an aloof company. These narratives can be so horrific that some people have decided to permanently avoid roller coasters and other rides.

In 2019, there were around 1,299 amusement park injuries in the United States alone. This means that for every million amusement park visitors in the US, there were around four who sustained injuries. This number is alarming, especially considering that it mainly consists of roller coaster accidents.

Disneyland is among the most popular theme parks in the United States and internationally. The park is filled with roller coasters and other creative rides that children love. One of the reasons why Disneyland still thrives as a theme park is due to its variety of recreational facilities and themed rides; however, this does not mean that these rides are always safe.

Surprisingly, from 1955 – 2006, there were 100 reported cases of accidents in this well-known and prestigious theme park; out of these 100 accidents, 25 deaths followed these accidents. The rides that caused the loss of these victims include the American Sings/Carousel of Progress, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Matterhorn, PeopleMover, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, and Sailing Ship Columbia.

Aside from these accidents, there has been more than one report of visitors to theme parks, particularly Disneyland, sustaining injuries in freak accidents that resulted in intensive medical attention or tragic loss. One young visitor was hit by a stray bullet, another was injured after a tree fell on them, and yet another victim drowned in the water ride Rivers of America.

Common Injuries at an Amusement Park Ride

As we’ve established, an unexpected injury can happen to any park visitor. An accident can affect anyone if they sustain injuries resulting from a dramatic roller coaster accident or a small slip on a wet floor.

The following are the most common injuries that have happened at these parks:

Neck, Head, and Back Injuries

These injuries often happen due to the force of being thrown and whipped around on roller coasters, spinning rides, and other fast amusement park rides where the rider has no control over their body.

Roller coasters toss a person’s body around with extreme force. Thus, a roller coaster injury may occur if there’s insufficient gear or safety restraint to protect the riders from potential hazards or the employees managing the ride do not exercise due diligence. These can be as minor as nausea and whiplash and as bad as a traumatic brain injury. These amusement park rides can also cause trauma to the bones, muscles, and ligaments surrounding the neck area.


Lacerations are one of the common injuries sustained at a water park or amusement park ride. Any sharp objects may cause lacerations; these may be deteriorating materials on a roller coaster, an unsecured item falling from an amusement park ride, or simply a broken cup that an unsuspecting water park guest steps on with bare feet. Ride operators or other employees often treat these lacerations with first aid. This kind of injury can often be severe, especially if the laceration is on a particularly vulnerable part of the body.


Bruises can happen on amusement park rides by simply bumping a body part into a particular ride or structure. While less common, people may also sustain bruises from unsecured items that fall from a roller coaster or from objects that are intentionally thrown from a roller coaster by unsupervised children. In the case of an accident, guests may also fall from amusement park rides. Even if they are lucky enough to avoid a severe injury, they will likely bruise quite dramatically as the injury heals.

Broken Bones

Broken bones are common among adults and children alike, especially if they have weak bones due to preexisting conditions. For example, if children or a guest with a bone disease were to get into a roller coaster accident, they would be far more likely to sustain severe injuries from the accident. However, this can also happen when a person exits or enters a ride improperly, falls from the stairs, or falls from a steep ride at a water park. The most dangerous instance of broken bones is when a person falls during a roller coaster accident; the person in this example would be very unlikely to survive the incident without a severe injury.

Torn Ligaments

Torn ligaments are often caused by the excessive twisting of body parts or premature landings. This is a typical roller coaster accident in an amusement park. However, torn ligaments may also be caused by a mild ankle sprain from a person tripping and falling, especially when the sprain is not treated immediately.

Stroke and Brain Aneurysms

Strokes caused by amusement park incidents are quite rare. However, there are still reported cases of such incidents happening on amusement park grounds. An example of such a case includes a 12-year-old child who manifested symptoms such as the inability to use his right arm, facial droop, and slurred speech after riding several roller coasters in a theme park. He was then diagnosed with an infarction at the left middle cerebral artery (MCA), which had been exacerbated during his trip to the park.

The little boy was medicated with anticoagulants and was soon found to have acquired the stroke due to the high head accelerations one can experience on a roller coaster ride.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has also found evidence that the stress of riding roller coasters can affect the brain and, in the long run, lead to an increased risk of a brain aneurysm.

Concussions and Other Traumatic Brain Injuries

Concussions and trauma to the head are often attributed to the jerky movements and high G-force of roller coaster rides. While there is a low possibility of these head motions turning into full-blown roller coaster accidents, the risk is still there, especially for those who are survivors of a previous traumatic brain injury.


If a victim experiences paralysis caused by a roller coaster accident, it is often associated with an injury to the spine if certain parts of the body are seriously injured while on these rides, there is a higher possibility for the victim to experience paralysis.

In one such case, a guest in a Florida water park was instructed by the ride operator (who, in addition to the company running the park, the guest later alleged was responsible) to lie flat on his stomach on a water slide. Unfortunately, the guest’s impact with the water caused his head to snap back, severely damaging his spinal column. This caused him to stay paralyzed until the rescuers arrived.

The victim and his family sought counsel from attorneys. They filed a claim against the park, insisting that they were at fault for his accident due to the lack of a sign to warn guests of the potential hazards that their slide posed and that they should be held responsible for his pain, medical bills, and more due to their negligence.


One of the most gruesome results of roller coaster accidents is the amputation of body parts. This is often caused by flimsy ride structures that either fall or break in the middle of operation.

One such accident happened to 17-year-old Leah Washington in the UK. Washington was riding in the front row of a roller coaster in Alton Towers when the ride crashed into an open carriage in front of it. The injury to her right leg forced doctors to amputate the limb. Fortunately, before any victims could even reach out to attorneys, Alton Towers reached out to those who had suffered injuries, admitted fault, and promised to be responsible for any ensuing medical fees. While the injured still worked with attorneys to establish their claim amounts and file them properly, everyone involved was promised swift and full payment for the incident.


Losing a loved one in the middle of an enjoyable time in an amusement park can be traumatizing and debilitating. While a tragic loss eventually requires acceptance, it also calls for roller coaster accident lawsuits. Death can happen anytime, but it’s especially unfortunate when this happens at an amusement park, where fun and good memories are expected. The loved ones of those lost should always seek the support of attorneys to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

The Amusement Park Rides That Cause the Most Injuries

For reference, below are the most common injuries sustained in an amusement or water park.

Roller Coasters

Roller coasters have been known to be the primary cause of injuries and death in amusement parks. Roller coaster accidents are usually to blame when something unfortunate happens therein. They are also the machine most likely to experience mechanical failures and unsecured protective gear. While sudden twists and turns are often to blame, the fault often rests on the employees and management when a malfunction like this happens.

Water Rapids

While it’s pretty evident that water rapids are dangerous due to possible drowning, these rides can also cause acute injuries. This is due to the rushing torrent of water and the solid structures surrounding the area that people may bump into. Riders may experience head trauma if the protective gear is loosely fastened or of poor quality.

What to Do in the Event of an Amusement Park Ride Injury

A roller coaster accident is rare, but it happens. And when it does, the casualties are usually massive and heartbreaking. You’ll never know the weight of what might happen when all you want to do is enjoy the sights and participate in the fun rides. Victims of roller coaster accidents seldom anticipate injuries or see any sign that they may suffer from an injury brought about by amusement park rides.

If you have been involved in such a roller coaster accident or other park accident, you are not to blame for anything. You deserve compensation for the suffering you have gone through. We understand that it is overwhelming to deal with the legal battle for compensation while recovering from a painful injury; this is why a reliable law firm that can provide a supportive and effective attorney-client relationship is necessary in cases like these.

New Jersey law requires an injured person to notify the amusement park owners within 90 days of the incident or risk losing their right to pursue a personal injury case.

As soon as you receive the medical attention you need, contact lawyers who specialize in amusement park accidents, like Rossetti, DeVoto, PC. The amusement park must be held liable for the roller coaster accident; you and others involved may file a claim for damages related to their negligence. These claims are best pursued with our seasoned and skilled attorneys specializing in personal injuries, particularly amusement park injuries.

Rossetti, DeVoto, PC can protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve based on the extent of your injuries. Our attorneys will be more than willing to listen to your story and advise you on the best possible path forward, given your unique circumstances. Our lawyers have years of experience in the field and can drastically increase your odds of winning your case so you and others involved can have justice for your injuries or your loss.

Contact our offices in Cherry Hill, Hackensack, and New Brunswick for more information. Our highly skilled lawyers will see that you get the compensation you deserve.

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