Merlin Entertainment, owners of Alton Towers, face a multi million pound fine after admitting they broke Health and Safety laws, causing park ride ‘Smiler’ to crash seriously injuring five people. Passengers were trapped above the ground at a 45 degree angle before eventually being rescued by emergency services.
The victims view the guilty plea as a milestone as they will now avoid a drawn out trial.
After carrying out an internal investigation, Alton Towers made clear that the crash was result of human error, and the ride was reopened nine months after the incident took place. Further investigation by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although there was no mechanical problem with the ride, there was no system in place showing staff that the ride was static. Shown on a computer, employees should have been able to see if the ride was static.
Andy Munden, Personal Injury lawyer at Warner Goodman LLP states “The Health and Safety Act and other relevant regulations set out how employers and owners of attractions open to the public should take measures to ensure that members of the public are not exposed to health and safety risks” The HSE has explained that although the ride was ‘mechanically sound’, no procedures were put in place to prevent incidents such as this from happening. Andy continues; “The absence of a solid system for staff to follow was the main flaw in this tragic case”.
Alton Towers are thought to be the first major theme park to submit a guilt plea, admitting to breaching Health and Safety laws. The firm are due to be sentenced on 20th of May, and the fine could be a unlimited amount possibly spanning into the millions depending on mitigation costs.
Andy concludes: “Anyone providing a service or attraction to the public should always check that the proper Health and Safety procedures are in place; without them they could be liable for any problems that may occur. In this case Merlin Entertainment are reported to have provided compensation and support to the victims of this avoidable accident. Whilst this is helpful, not every potential defendant is as forthcoming in an admission of fault and offer to help. Where problems like this do occur then the Injury Team at Warner Goodman LLP can help to get the support and compensation the innocent victims desperately need. ”