Riders Injured in Fall from Ferris Wheel (and How Theme Parks Can Be Held Liable)

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.


By far the most common theory of liability for theme park accidents is negligence.This legal theory rests on the notion that an amusement park is responsible for providing customers with a safe environment. When you enter a theme park and get on a ride, you put your trust in the owners and operators to ensure that you remain safe during your visit. If the park fails to live up to this expectation–for example, if the park did not keep a ride in proper condition or failed to inspect its equipment–and injury occurs, the park may be found liable for negligence.

Products Liability

Riders who are injured on theme park rides may also make a claim against the theme park if the injury was the result of a defective ride. For example, if a lap bar comes unlatched during a ride, and it is found that the latch mechanism was defective, the rider may be able to make a products liability claim.Whereas in negligence actions the rider could only sue the theme park, in products liability actions, the rider could sue the park and the manufacturer of the ride.

Premises Liability

The owners of land owe a generally duty to all who enter upon the land. This duty is to maintain their property in a condition that will not lead to visitors suffering foreseeable injuries. In the case of theme parks, property owners must manage and maintain the grounds and facilities in a reasonable manner so as to avoid injury to visitors. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for the damages they cause.

Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been injured at a theme park, county fair, or festival, you may be able to seek compensation. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Gwinnett County, Muscogee County, and Richmond County.


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