Injuries on Amusement Rides: Can you claim?

Carnival rides provide a lot of fun, thrill and enjoyment for most people who are daring enough to try them out. Let’s face it, the EKKA wouldn’t be the same without them. I think many of us would be lying though if we said we hadn’t pondered the safety implications before deciding whether to trust the ride with our lives. But there are literally hundreds of rides operating around the country at any one time without incident and it is with this assurance that many of us decide to take the gamble and pay the money to enjoy 2 minutes of thrill, or terror, which ever it may be.

With this being said though, sometimes thing do go wrong! Last month an empty carriage was flung off a ride and onto the ground, crashing through a safety barrier at Goodna. Fortunately no one was injured in this “minor technical malfunction” as the ride’s owner described it.

So what are your rights if you suffer injuries on amusement rides? In this article we examine your rights as patron on a ride and in what circumstances you may be able to bring a claim for injury.

Negligence claims in Queensland are governed by the Civil Liability Act 2003 (CLA). This Act details what is to be taken into consideration when determining whether a defendant has breached their duty of care to an injured plaintiff. The Act also outlines defences to a negligence claim that a defendant may rely upon in defending the claim brought against them.

The defence of a “dangerous recreational activity” is particularly relevant in relation to injuries sustained on amusement rides, as the CLA states that a person is not liable in negligence for an injury suffered by another person as a result of that person engaging in a dangerous recreational activity.

A dangerous recreational activity is described in the Act as an activity engaged in for enjoyment, relaxation or leisure that involves a significant degree of risk of physical harm to a person. While it is up to the Court to determine whether the activity an injured person was participating in comes within this definition it is likely that the Court will accept that participating in an amusement park ride will satisfy the meaning of a dangerous recreational activity. So if, while on a ride, you injure your back, neck, arm, leg etc. as a result of being jolted around your claim for negligence is likely to fail, as the injury has arisen out of participating in a dangerous recreational activity, with the inherent risk of, in participating in that ride you may suffer some form of injury.

However, there are certain circumstances in which you may be successful in your claim for an injury suffered while on an amusement ride.

For example if your injury occurred as a result of a defect in the ride then you may be able to argue that your injury occurred due to the ride owner’s negligence in failing to identify and rectify the defect and failing to keep the ride in a safe condition. The law generally holds the ride owner responsible for the safety of the people on their amusement rides. Ride owners and operators are the ones who relocate, assemble, check, and operate their equipment in accordance with the manufactures’ instructions and procedures required by the Australian Safety Standards.

Partaking in amusement rides is a way to have fun and enjoy yourself for those brave enough to endure them. Fortunately there are hundreds of rides operating around Australia at any one time without incident. However sometimes accidents do happen and unfortunately people become injured while on one of these rides.

Whether or not your claim will be successful for an injury suffered while upon an amusement ride will depend on how your injury occurred. If you sustained your injury as a result of the jerking mechanism of the ride itself then it is likely your claim will fail due to the dangerous recreational activity defence. However this defence will not relieve the owner/operator from properly erecting, inspecting and maintaining their ride to ensure their patrons safety. If the owner/operator fails to do this and you sustain an injury then you may be successful in bringing a claim against the ride owner/operator as your injury was caused by their negligence and not from the inherent risk of injury in participating in the ride.

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