Are You Putting Yourself and Your Children in Danger When You Go On an Amusement Ride at a County Fair or Carnival?
Spring and summer is upon us and carnivals and fairs seem to be springing up in many local neighborhoods and state fairgrounds. Most of us have happy childhood memories of carnival and fair sounds; we remember blinking lights which built a sense of excitement that we felt as we walked the fairgrounds. When we go to carnivals, we mostly think of fun times with our kids, spouse, or girlfriend and never think that unimaginable trouble and danger may be lurking beneath the surface.
Unfortunately in many states, the inspection and maintenance process of carnival and fair rides is minimal at best. Every year in Pennsylvania, millions and millions will visit over 700 registered amusement operations. Although the Department of Agriculture regulations note that the Commonwealth employs quality assurance inspectors to ensure credibility of primary inspections by unannounced inspections, amusement park accidents in Pennsylvania continue to happen with increasing frequency. State oversight of amusement rides varies widely throughout the United States. Believe it or not, some states even allow ride owners to choose their own inspectors.
Recently, a story made the news claiming that rides in some states do not have to be inspected at all and amusement rides at traveling carnivals in South Carolina only need to be inspected once a year despite the fact that the rides continue to be taken apart, moved, and set up over and over again. State certified inspectors are only required to sign off on the rides once a year no matter how many times these rides get moved around.
As an experienced carnival accident attorney who has litigated amusement accidents at fixed parks, carnivals, and fair grounds, including many of the major United States amusement parks, I am afraid to state that there are all too many loopholes in amusement park legislation and enforcement concerning safety. I have yet to meet an amusement park or carnival owner who did not claim that the amusement was safe because it is well maintained and regularly inspected and operated by professionals. Almost every time we contact the owner or operator of an amusement facility after an accident, we are told this is an isolated incident, a “once in a lifetime experience”. Unfortunately that assertion is not as true as we would like it to be. In a water park accident case that we are currently litigating, we were told that a back breaking injury that occurred on the waterslide had never happened before. A careful investigation revealed that at least three to four similar incidents occurred on the same attraction in a matter of months.
Interestingly enough, the same large amusement corporation operated the same ride in three different parks and was aware of similar injury patterns.
Amusement parks, carnivals, and state fairs are big profits and contribute significant dollars to local economies, but safety should never ever, ever, trump profitability. It must always remain priority number one.
The experienced amusement park, carnival, and fair accident lawyers of Reiff and Bily have extensive knowledge investigating and litigating amusement park and carnival accidents. We always offer a free, no obligation consultation toll free at (800) 421-9595 or online at www.reiffandbily.com.