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£5 million fine for owners of Alton Towers after rollercoaster accident

The owners of Alton Towers’, Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd,  have been in the press a lot over the last year after a collision on one of their rollercoaster caused 16 people to sustain serious injuries, some of which were life changing.

Operating a theme park with very high tech, high speed rides has it’s public safety risks and so the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) were quick to inspect the site following the tragic crash last year to find out what caused the accident and ensure it doesn’t happen again on this ride or any other ride in the park.

The HSE’s investigation found that whilst there was no fault with the rollercoaster track, the control system or the cars, there was human error. The HSE found that park engineers decided to override the rides control system which stops carriages from colliding and as a result one car smashed into a stationery car resulting in victims suffering multiple serious injuries including two women having to have leg amputations.

The Crown Court heard that it was a catalogue of human errors that led to the accident including lack of proper training to make safe decisions on operating such a dangerous ride, lack of training or process around fixing track or car faults whilst the ride is operating.

Head of Ops for the Midlands HSE said:

“People visiting theme parks should be able to enjoy themselves safely. On 2 June last year Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd failed to protect their customers, they badly let them down.

“This avoidable incident happened because Merlin failed to put in place systems to allow engineers to work safely on the ride while it was running. This made it all too easy for a whole series of unchecked mistakes, not just one push of a button, to result in tragic consequences.

“Since the incident Alton Towers have made improvements to the ride and their safety protocols, and the lessons learned have been shared industry wide.”

The Crown Court fined Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd £5 million for breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc, 1974 and also had to pay legal costs of £69,955.40.

If you find yourself or a loved one is injured and not at fault then these are the factors to consider before making an occupier liability claim. Business owners and services have a duty of care to ensure that their premises, including all the land they are responsible for (eg carparks, rivers, lakes and roads) are safe for the general public.

  • Was the danger obvious and if not were there warnings or signage of the risks?
  • Was the accident area well-lit with adequate barriers or support if the ground was uneven?
  • The age of the injured party ie elderly or small children; allowances should be made for the lack of mobility of visitors or lack of knowledge and understanding of any warnings in place.

At Thorneycroft Solicitors our expert team offers the highest levels of legal expertise and will advise you on what procedures you need to follow when making an occupiers liability claim. We understand the process and will also assist you in obtaining evidence to support the claim and identify any long-term effects that may need to be considered. Our experience means that we can make the claim as straightforward and stress free as possible.
Thorneycroft Solicitors will get you the compensation you deserve

We offer a free initial interview in order to review your specific circumstances and assess the viability of your personal injury claim.

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