Experienced Amusement Park Accident Attorney Suggests That It Is Time For Lawmakers To Close The Loopholes In View Of Recent Amusement Park Accidents And Deaths - Calls For Transparency In Reporting Requirements
In the beginning of June, unfortunately, Abiah Jones, age 11, tragically fell to her death at Morey’s Pier in Wildwood, New Jersey. On Friday evening, July 8, 2011 war hero, Sgt. James T. Hackemer, 29, who lost both his legs in Iraq died after falling from a ride on a steel roller coaster at the Darien Lake Theme Park resort.
As an experienced amusement park accident attorney who has been intimately involved investigating and litigating amusement park cases for over three decades, I am extraordinarily concerned that the amusement park industry is one of the most highly unregulated industries, yet we entrust our children to thrill rides confidently assuming that they are safe and have been inspected. Massachusetts Congressman Edward J. Markey notes that he has been trying for years to pass a bill entitled The National Amusement Park Rides Safety Act that would close the number of loopholes regarding oversight of amusement park rides. The Bill calls for restoration of the Consumer Product Safety Commissions ability to oversee fixed site amusement rides, a job that the Commission had until 1981 when an amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Act was passed removing language that gave the Commission responsibility over its rides. The change would also give the CPSC the authority to investigate accidents in amusement parks and then allow the CPSC to share information with operators of the same rides in other states before accidents occur and develop plans to correct problems and reduce risks of harm. The CPSC would also be able to compile comprehensive safety information for consumers.
In a tightened economy, many amusement parks seem to be taking short cuts on safety and putting profitability first. I for one believe that safety should never be an option and yet many amusement park owners and operators who are members of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions have issued several statements in response to Congressman Markey’s bill stating that it is not necessary as the Bill “seeks to address a problem that does not exist". The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions cites the industry’s outstanding safety record, and as an experienced amusement park accident attorney, I am well aware that many accidents that occur at amusement parks are not reported and those accident situations that are resolved are generally resolved in a confidential manner. In my opinion, many amusement parks operate in an atmosphere where politicians and inspectors seem to take protective measures in favor of the amusement parks due to the fact that they contribute so much to local economies.
As I have been intimately involved as an amusement park accident attorney in several amusement park accidents where investigators found no fault, it has been quite mind boggling when our own independent experts perform an independent and non-biased analysis that seems to be completely at odds with those of the park with the amusement park owner and operator. One must ask themselves if these rides are so safe why not make them more transparent and promote the Bill which would insure their safety. My own personal opinion is that in many states, the situation is not so dissimilar to the fox guarding the hen house.