In March of this year, a 59 year-old woman, a woman in her 40s, and a 7 year-old boy fell about 12 to 15 feet out of a Ferris wheel in Washington State when the gondola they were in tipped over. The 59 year-old was hospitalized with serious injuries, while the others were treated and released. The company that owns the Ferris wheel claims that riders who fell out had been asked to remain seated during the ride’s rotation. However, a witness at the scene claims that it didn’t appear that the riders were moving around when their gondola tipped over, and a broken part was found on the deck of the ride shortly after the accident. The witness further claims that the riders did not start moving back and forth in the gondola until the car itself started coming apart and they were trying to hold on, and that she heard a grinding sound right before the accident.
This incident raises the question of theme park and festival safety, and what riders can do if they are injured on a ride. Below, we’ll examine some of the most common theories of liability for theme park accidents.