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Just how safe are roller-coaster rides across the country?

Summer across the United States, including Florida, is a time for beaches, water parks and amusement parks that entire families can enjoy. Many amusement parks are perfect places for fun, but some may also be places where accidents are likely due to negligence that can harm and even kill customers.

Many people may think twice now before getting on a roller coaster after a July accident at an amusement park in California. The roller coaster came to a sudden halt, stranding 22 riders, when its lead car hit a tree branch that had fallen on the tracks. The partially derailed car was left dangling, its passengers in danger of falling 20 feet to the ground. Fortunately, all of the passengers were rescued within four hours. Four riders suffered injuries, but only two were treated for minor injuries at a nearby hospital. The ride is temporarily closed.

This recent accident calls attention to safety concerns the public might have with accidents at amusement parks throughout the country. In June 2013, a woman fell to her death from a roller coaster in Texas; that park is owned the same company that owns the California park in question. Although such theme park accidents are rare, for every 1 million people attending a fixed-site amusement park, 4.3 were injured, according to statistics for 2011 from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The chance of being seriously injured was 1 in 24 million.

Amusement parks owners are no different from any other business owner in Florida. They have to put the safety of customers, especially children, first. Failure to do so can make owners liable for injuries or deaths that occur on their business premises.

Source: CNN, "Six Flags roller coaster car derails, 4 injured," Holly Yan and Mariano Castillo, July 8, 2014

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