Three visitors to Knott’s Berry Farm suffered minor injuries when the stagecoach in which they were passengers tipped over after a wheel detached from the vehicle, according to ABC News.
There were a total of 14 passengers in the stagecoach when the crash occurred, but only three were transported to a local hospital complaining of minor injuries. Knott’s Berry Farm officials stated that the ride will be closed until a full investigation can be made into the cause of the accident.
Amusement Park Accidents More Common in Recent Months
The rate of amusement park accidents at southern California parks has been greater in recent months than previously, although there does not seem to be a common factor in the accidents. Amusement park accidents involving malfunctioning equipment are relatively rare, with most accidents occurring when visitors suffer slip-and-fall accidents getting into or out of rides or slipping on wet surfaces. However, in recent months, two worker accidents at Disneyland and assorted ride-related accidents at other parks have brought attention to amusement park safety.
Most notably, a ride malfunction at Knott’s Berry Farm that stranded guests for hours when a high-altitude swing ride stopped working. Although no one was physically injured in this incident, Knott’s Berry Farm was forced to close the ride for an extended time as it investigated possible causes of the malfunction.
Liability Issues in Amusement Park Accidents
Amusement parks tend to carry large liability policies because it is relatively common for people to suffer minor injuries at these locations. Large crowds, inclement weather, and dangerous machinery combine to make the situation ripe for injuries, including slip-and-fall or minor cuts and scrapes.
However, major injuries are less common but are always a possibility. When a victim is injured due to malfunctioning equipment or negligence on the part of park workers in maintaining a safe environment, the amusement park may have much larger liability exposure.
There have also been cases in which people were killed in amusement park accidents, although this is a relatively rare occurrence, amusement parks have been held responsible for such accidents in lawsuits.
Liability For This Accident
Although officials are still conducting an investigation into the cause of this accident, it seems clear that the stagecoach was either poorly maintained by park personnel or was defective in some way, leading to the detached wheel.
This brings up an interesting question for a personal injury attorney representing a victim of this accident: is Knott’s Berry Farm liable for failing to maintain the stagecoach in a safe condition or is the stagecoach manufacturer liable for issuing a defective product?
The answer may actually be that both are liable. While the manufacturer may have liability for inherent defects in the design or production of the vehicle, the amusement park is also responsible for inspecting the coach to be sure that it is safe for passengers. Victims may be able to collect damages from both the manufacturer and the amusement park, depending on the findings of the investigation.