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California Supreme Court Rules on Bumper Car Injuries

By Renee Nordstrand on January 9, 2013

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Ride a bumper car at your own risk.

That’s the ruling the California Supreme Court recently handed down in the case of a woman whose wrist was fractured while she was riding a bumper car with her 9-year-old son in a Santa Clara amusement park in 2005.

The justices ruled 6-1 in favor of the amusement park, Great America, deciding that bumper car riders may not sue amusement parks over injuries stemming from the “inherent nature” of the attraction.

The woman’s wrist was injured during a head-on collision with another bumper car. Her attorney argued that the company had configured bumper car rides in other parks to avoid such head-on collisions and was therefore liable. There were 55 injuries on that particular ride in 2004 and 2005 — mostly cuts, bruises and scratches. Her injury was the only fracture reported.

Writing for the majority, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, stated that a small degree of risk accompanies certain rides, like bumper cars, and that “those who voluntarily join in these activities also voluntarily take on their minor inherent risks.”

This doesn’t mean that amusements parks are off the hook when it comes to liability for bumper car injuries. They still have to provide routine safety measures such as seat belts, speed controls and adequate bumpers. Also, the ruling doesn’t affect rides like roller coasters, where the patron effectively gives up any control over the ride to a ride operator.

This ruling may carry other repercussions when it comes to liability issues linked with a variety of activities that carry inherent risks — such as jet skiing or skating.

The attorney for the plaintiff told The Los Angeles Times, “Patrons are less safe today than they were yesterday.”

Have you been injured in an amusement park accident? The Santa Barbara amusement park injury attorneys at Law Office of Renee J. Nordstrand can assess your case and discuss your legal options. Our experienced team will fight for your legal rights.

Contact our Southern California Offices in Santa Barbara (805) 962-2022 or in Encino (818) 981-3530 for a free review of your case today.