Inefficient regulation and control have resulted in needless amusement park injuries. Unfortunately, ride manufacturers, owners, operators, and insurers may handle safety as they choose and often have a right to keep safety information private.
There are over 1.8 billion people riding amusement attractions nationally each year. There is no consistency in the regulation of amusement rides. After investigating and litigating many amusement parks and carnival accidents over the last three decades, there is almost never a case where complete records are ever provided or made available. In fact, there is almost always a contested fight with legal challenges to obtain this information.
What To Do If You Are Injured at an Amusement Park
Recently, there was a malfunction of a “Vortex” amusement ride at a North Carolina State Fair which hospitalized five people. The local Sheriff’s Department seized public records from the North Carolina Department of Labor. The North Carolina Department of Labor is in charge of regulating amusement rides in that jurisdiction. According to news sources, the Labor Department officials did not keep copies of the records even though their department was conducting their own investigation. Investigators have been stonewalled according to the sources.
For example, despite the fact that the nameplate on the “Vortex” indicated the attraction was manufactured by “Technical Park”, sources claim that “Technical Park” replied that they did not manufacture the “Vortex”. When the State Department of Labor and Amusement Device Bureau, who regulates ride safety, was asked how the department administering the investigation without retaining copies of records could be occurring, they were noted to have said: “the investigation is ongoing”. According to news sources, when the alleged manufacturer of the “Vortex”, “Technical Park” of Italy has contacted a representative denied that “Technical Park” manufactured the “Vortex” and claimed “You have been given the wrong information. Please don’t call again.” before hanging up abruptly.
In a high profile amusement park accident case that our firm is currently litigating with local counsel in Florida, there’s an ongoing battle to obtain important safety, maintenance, and operations records that the park and state claims are missing. Surveillance videos are also said to be missing. Unfortunately this is not an uncommon scenario.
In any amusement park accident case, it is important for the investigating parties and prosecuting attorneys to obtain the following non-inclusive list of information:
1. The purchase agreement/contract for the attraction;
2. A detailed description of the attraction including the registration number, name of the attraction, manufacturer, and manufacturer’s serial number;
3. Complete copies of all safety inspections made by members of state regulatory, federal regulatory, agencies and members of the amusement park or carnival staff, as well as by third-party consultants.
4. Owner and operators fact sheets for the attraction;
5. A complete copy of standard operating procedures for the attraction;
6. A copy of rider standards and requirements for the attraction;
7. A copy of the accident reporting procedures for the park or carnival in effect on the date of the accident;
8. Copies of a report filed with the state relating to the accident in which the victim was injured;
9. Post-accident inspection or test reports for the attraction on which the victim was injured;
10. Copies of signal systems used by operators;
11. Copies of operator ride requirements;
12. Copy of maintenance programs and maintenance logs for the attraction;
13. Copies of industry standards used to develop the maintenance program for the attraction;
14. Copy of the registration plate for the attraction;
15. Any and all documents relative to modifications to the attraction;
16. Surveillance videos;
17. Witness statements.
Have You Been Injured at an Amusement Park? Call the Amusement Park Injury Attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm
Of course, this is just a simple non-inclusive summary of what a proper amusement park investigation should begin to entail. Despite spikes in fatalities and injuries from amusement park accidents and permanent amusement park rides there are all too many loopholes in the state regulatory systems and Federal government oversight is necessary to close these loopholes and address the current patchwork of regulations. Without proper records and independent examination of the same, the climate is ripe for continued injustice.
Until that time, unfortunately, it will be left to trial lawyers to protect the rights of individuals who seek fun and not an injury when they visit amusement parks.