Thrill seekers in Florida are increasingly searching for opportunities to get on a “zipline,” which is an inclined rope or cable with a suspended pulley, handle or harness down which a person slides. A search for ziplines in Florida reveals dozens of locations throughout the state from Tallahassee to Tampa.
Now, a new study conducted by researchers with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio have learned the number of zipline injuries has spiked by more than 50 percent just from 2009 to 2012. What’s more, children under the age of 9 account for 45 percent of these injuries.
Also startling was the severity of these injuries. We’re not talking minor cuts and abrasions. Study authors learned that 50 percent involved fractures or broken bones. One in 10 of those injures had to be admitted to the hospital with serious injuries.
Since 1997, they found nearly 17,000 people were injured so badly while ziplining, they required emergency medical treatment at a local hospital. However, the activity didn’t really become popular until 2009. That’s when researchers say the activity began to really gain a following and they could more accurately determine the injury rate. Of those 17,000 injuries, 70 percent occurred in the last four years alone. In 2001, there were approximately 10 commercial zipline operations in the entire U.S. By 2012, there were an estimated 200 or so. Today, there are well over 13,000.
Our South Florida zipline injury lawyers recognize that many individuals who engaged in this activity may have signed a liability waiver prior to engaging. However, this does not always prevent a person from a successful lawsuit. Much of it depends on the way the waiver was written, the practices of the company and the extent of injuries sustained.
Researchers ascertained the majority of zipline injuries occurred when riders either fell off or crashed into a fixed object, such as a tree or zipline structure. So one of two things happens: Rider is either barreling toward a tree at an extremely high speed and crashes, or they fall from a very high height. Either way, it’s not difficult to see why the injuries are so severe.
Half of those injured sustained broken bones. The rest suffered sprains, strains, head injuries and bruises. Head injuries account for 7 percent of all emergency hospital visits related to zipline injuries.
Although many operations require riders to wear a helmet, a helmet is no guarantee of protection from injury. In fact, even a fall from a relatively short height while wearing a helmet can result in serious damage to to the neck and head. Injuries may depend less on how far one falls as opposed to how they fall and what they fall onto.
Most people make the assumption that existing zipline rides must be up to certain safety standards. However, there is no federal zipline safety standard, which means regulation is largely left to the states. Most states don’t have any regulation at all. In Florida, F.S. 616.242 does set certain standards for “amusement rides,” requiring annual inspection (with exception) and granting the state with authority to seize any amusement ride involved in a serious injury.
Researchers of the recent study called for a universal set of safety standards for ziplines that could be adopted by every state.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Zip line popularity soars along with injuries, study finds, Oct. 5, 2015, By Lindsey Tanner, Associated Press
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