How Common Are Roller Coaster Accidents?

How Common Are Roller Coaster Accidents?
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The answer to the question “How common are roller coaster accidents” is “not very.” In fact, the likelihood of dying on a roller coaster is pretty low. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the deaths per year are so low that the odds of dying on a roller coaster ride is roughly one in 750 million.

However, when ride-related injuries occur, they can be life-changing and tragic. Additionally, accidents, while suspended in the air, are certainly frightening.

Some of the biggest [ link: attractions at amusement parks] are roller coasters. Of course, when you place your family on one of the thrill rides, you expect ride safety will be a prime concern to the amusement park owner and ride operator.

Here’s a look at some of the most recent amusement park accidents–some did not result in injury–in the United States:


Dawn R. Jankovic, 47, of Brunswick, Ohio, died from internal bleeding after sustaining an injury while riding “The Voyage” roller coaster at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana. The local coroner listed force from the roller coaster as the third cause of death.

The force from “The Voyage” ride caused her right internal thoracic artery to tear, resulting in rapid blood loss, according to the coroner. Officials said the roller coaster was functioning properly and the death “had nothing to do with the ride itself,” the Indianapolis Star reported.


Two people were taken to the hospital after sustaining injuries on the Saw Mill Log Flume ride at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. The log flume, which takes riders down a 4-story plunge, has been in service since the park’s opening in 1974.


An 11-year-old from Tennessee fell while getting off the Branson Coaster in the Missouri tourist town and was then stuck underneath the rails of the ride for roughly 90 minutes. He incurred serious injuries to his legs and right arm. His grandmother said at the time that doctors were unsure if they could save his legs.


Passengers were rescued from the Desert Storm roller coaster at Castles N Coasters amusement park in Phoenix. Indeed, the riders spent roughly two hours suspended 20 feet above the ground in a sideways position. Eventually, firefighters could rescue the group, which included a handful of children. Fortunately, no riders were injured.


Riders were rescued from the Poltergeist roller coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. The 2,700-foot-long roller coaster, which takes passengers from zero to 60 mph in less than four seconds, stalled mid-ride.

After riders were stuck on the coaster for over three hours, several firefighter crews and rescue teams were able to safely remove them from the ride.

Fortunately, there were no injuries.


Action Park was known as the most dangerous amusement park in the country. Indeed, six deaths occurred there from 1980 to 1987.

From 1984 to 1985 there were 26 head injuries and 14 broken bones reported.

In fact, Action Park (and its famous water slide) closed in 1996 after several people were injured and filed personal injury suits.

Note that these injuries occurred at large, fixed-site amusement parks.


There are many causes of roller coaster ride accidents at amusement parks and on roller coasters. In some cases, they may not properly secure the rider, or the maintenance staff not be properly trained in taking care of the ride.

Sometimes, park owners may cut corners. For example, they use cheap materials to construct the coaster. Or they don’t conduct routine maintenance as required.

As another example, restraint systems may be designed poorly.

Lastly, the ride operators may operate the ride in an unsafe manner.

Injuries sustained in a roller coaster accident may be severe and may even lead to death.


Typically, when a roller coaster accident causes an injury, the head and neck are the most common body regions injured.

Common roller coaster injuries include whiplash and head/neck/back injuries.

Additionally, roller coaster accidents can cause lacerations, torn ligaments, and broken bones.

More serious injuries include traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Lastly, wrongful death claims have been made because of roller coaster accidents.


In fact, visitors who get a roller coaster ride injury may have several parties to include in a suit:

Amusement park owners

Certainly, amusement park owners may be liable to persons injured on the roller coaster. Certainly, they operate their amusement parks and attractions to get paying customers through the gates. Therefore, they must maintain safe premises and rides for those customers.

Therefore, if defective stairs, slippery floors, or unsafe rides cause a visitor to be injured, they can hold the park owner liable for that person’s injuries.

In addition, many roller coaster ride accidents take place on a more local level, at county or state fairs and short-term festivals and carnivals. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates these fairs.

The safety measures for small-scale events like these are not as strict as large and permanent parks like Disneyland, which are regulated by the states.

Roller coaster rides are set up and taken down repeatedly and transported across the country monthly. Sometimes the storage process of these rides can be inadequate.


The manufacturers of the parts and equipment for the roller coaster must ensure that the ride’s equipment is safe and properly maintained.

Roller coaster ride operators

The persons who operate the roller coaster must do so in a safe and responsible manner. In addition, they must enforce any rules regarding the rides, such as minimum height and age requirements.

If the actions (or inactions) of these parties were negligent, injured parties may recover personal injury damage for pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages (past and future).

Notwithstanding the above, the quality of the ride operators’ staff at these local events can be uneven. Indeed, many times, they are not fully aware or trained to handle the rides.When this is the case, serious accidents can occur.


In a roller coaster accident case, there are several types of damage claims injured persons make:

Medical expenses

You may recover all your medical expenses (even those which insurance paid)

Lost wages

You may make a claim for the wages you were not paid because you missed work because of your injuries

Pain and suffering

Injured parties can tell the jury how badly your back hurt after your roller coaster accident. You can also tell the jury how you got chiropractic treatment for weeks and you still have stiffness in your back most mornings when you wake up. That is pain and suffering


If there are lingering symptoms from your injury (and there often are), you can tell the jury about them. Perhaps you work at a desk all day but cannot sit for over 25-30 minutes because of the back injury you sustained in the theme park accident

Because of your back injury, you stop working frequently, get up from the desk, and walk around the office. You can tell the jury about that. The jury can take that into account during their deliberations. They can then factor it into their damage award

Future medical treatment

If you suffered a traumatic brain injury or compound fracture of your leg falling off a roller coaster, you may need medical and physical therapy treatment for the foreseeable future. You (and your doctor) can tell the jury about that

Loss of consortium

If a roller coaster accident killed your spouse, or severely injured him/her, the jury can compensate you for losing the affection, advice, and companionship spouses show each other. In other words, the loss of consortium

Punitive damages

Punitive damages are a distinct type of damage and are not usually available in a personal injury case. Punitive damages punish the defendant for bad conduct. Therefore, cases in which someone’s negligence injures others rarely involve punitive damages. However, punitive damages might be available against an amusement park owner or roller coaster ride operator that falsified maintenance records for the ride.

Likewise, if the amusement park had a history of accidents on the roller coaster ride, and they did nothing to address those repeat accidents, a punitive damage claim might succeed.

But there would have to be serious misconduct by the park’s owner and/or the roller coaster owner to justify an award for punitive damages. However, if the defendant’s misconduct was egregious, we will fight to get an award of punitive damages for you.


If an amusement park or roller coaster accident has injured you, a close friend, or a loved one because of someone’s negligence, you need an experienced roller coaster accident law firm. We will investigate the accident and determine who was at fault for your injuries.

Then we will negotiate a settlement with the insurance companies for the responsible parties that fully compensates you.

And, by the way, we negotiate with insurance companies almost every day.

However, if the insurance company is not willing to settle your amusement park rides injury case at a reasonable amount, we will prepare the case for trial.

Of course, the case can still settle. But, as every experienced law group knows, sometimes the at-fault party’s insurance companies don’t make the best settlement offers unless their backs are against the wall.

Lastly, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your medical bills and pain and suffering. Contact our law firm at our Hammond office at (219) 200-2000 or online at for a free consultation.

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