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The Wacky Worm wacked its passengers at the Alameda County Fair, July 1. A chain on the family friendly roller coaster broke loose and hit riders as they rolled by it. Fortunately, the injuries were not severe, but the fair ride will remain closed until state inspectors have a chance to investigate.
According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Worm turned at about 3:00 p.m. All of the seven people hurt suffered minor injuries. One child and one adult were taken to Valley Care Hospital in Pleasanton for further observation. The others were treated at the fairgrounds.
So who would shoulder the blame when something goes wrong with a Worm or any other amusement park or fair ride? Sometimes, for activities that carry an inherent risk, the person engaging in the activity must take some of the responsibility if they are injured. Assumption of the risk is a defense a person can use when sued for negligence. The idea is that a plaintiff assumes the risk of injury involved in an obviously dangerous activity if they understand and proceeded to engage in the activity anyway.
This legal theory is quite often applied to accidents on amusement park rides. But luckily for any Worm riders who may want to sue over their injuries, the assumption of risk defense is usually applied to the more risky rides such as those with large drops or upside-down spins. The Wacky Worm was described by the Chronicle as a "gentle roller coaster meant for children," so any risk assumed would likely be fairly minor.
One last note about Wacky Worms. Sadly, the Chronicle also reports man lost his leg when he walked onto the tracks of a roller coaster by the same name at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma. This Wacky Worm however, was a different type of Worm than the one at the Alameda Fair, and operated by a different company. This was just a wacky and very unhappy coincidence.