Death on the “Texas Giant” and Roller Coaster Accident Liability

A woman was killed recently after falling out of a popular Texas roller coaster, causing several traumatic injuries and trauma to the torso according to the autopsy.

The woman, 52-year-old Rosa Ayala-Gaona of Dallas, was ejected from her third-row seat on the Texas Giant ride in the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park outside of Dallas. Witnesses say that before the ride departed, Rosa expressed concerns over whether or not the car’s safety bar had properly clicked into place, suggesting that either mechanical failure or employee negligence is a factor.

Carmen Brown, an eyewitness waiting in line to board the ride, told the reporters that, “They didn’t secure her right. One of the employees from the park—one of the ladies—she asked her to click her more than once, and they were like, ‘As long you heard it click, you’re OK.’ Everybody else is like, ‘Click, click, click’. Hers only clicked once.”

And this is hardly the first time this kind of situation has occurred.

In 2002, a 24-year-old man was killed in a fall from a roller coaster at Denver’s own SixFlagsElitchGardens when he unbuckled his seat belt during the ride and slid from underneath his safety restraint.

In all, some 50 people died from roller coaster-related accidents from 1987-2000, and statistics by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission say that as many as 8,800 people were hurt enough to require emergency room treatment on amusement park rides in 2006 alone.

Not all roller coaster accidents are fatal—as was the case for Rosa earlier this month. But many of them can be serious. Common amusement park ride injuries include:

  • Head, neck, or back injuries
  • Whiplash
  • Traumatic brain injury from rapid speeds or falling objects
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Brain aneurysms
  • Falls due to dizziness
  • And others…

However, just because an injury occurs at a theme park doesn’t necessarily mean legal action is appropriate.

To file an injury claim against an amusement park, it must be established that employees of the park acted negligently, or failed to act in reasonable manner to ensure the safety of their guests. If a guest acted inappropriately, leading to their own death or injury, then the park is not held liable for the accident.

Once negligence has been proven, whether through a witness or proof of mechanical defect, the park’s owners will be charged under the legal category of “vicarious liability” and forced to compensate the victim for injuries, or their families for wrongful death.

If you or a family member suffered a serious injury because of mechanical failure, defective ride design, or employee negligence at an amusement park, schedule a free consultation with Denver personal injury attorney R. Mack Babcock today to discuss your legal rights.

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Categories: GeneralPremises Liability
Tags: accidentsnegligencePremises Liabilitywrongful death
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