“The Carnival and Amusement Ride Safety Act establishes an annual ride safety inspection program. In order to implement the act the Bureau of Code Services enforces the Carnival and Amusement Ride Safety Program regulations cited as N.J.A.C. 5:14A. These new rules include the requirements for manufacturers, owners and operators of carnival and amusement rides and devices. A manufacturer is required to have their ride type certified prior to its sale for operation in New Jersey, whether at a fixed park or with a traveling show. Type certification requires that the manufacturer submit an application and supply the required information for review by the Bureau. The owner of an amusement ride or device is required to register their ride by applying for an annual permit. The annual permit assures that the ride is inspected annually and the owner has met all outstanding violations and has proper insurance for the duration of operation under the annual permit.The program has a full engineering staff to review current and new rides for modifications, alterations and
installation of new rides. The state is also covered by licensed field inspectors to assure that annual inspections and operational
inspections are performed in a timely manner. The annual inspection is required prior to operation under the annual permit and the continued safe operation of rides is maintained through random operational inspections. “
Yet, every year hundreds of people are injured. Sure there are some people that, no matter how safe you make a ride, will find some way to bypass safety devices, disregard warning signs or otherwise put themselves in danger and, frankly, I have no sympathy for them. But those aren’t the people I’m talking about. I’m talking about the person or family that goes to the amusement park, carnival or fair, follows the rules and acts appropriately and still dies, has a limb amputated, sustains a fracture, brain injury, internal injuries, or severe tears, sprains and strains. With all the rides, both fixed location and traveling, there is no way the limited number of inspectors can constantly monitor each ride.
And, like any business, greed and profits, many times, cause some owners to forgo their own inspections, or proper maintenance and repairs, or not properly train and monitor employees. Unfortunately, if the rides or attractions are not maintained or operated properly, it can lead to accidents causing severe injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, brain bleeds, amputations, spinal cord injuries, artery dissections or even death. Amusement park related accidents can happen due to faulty rides, rides that are not maintained, defects in the manufacturing of the ride and impaired or distracted ride operators (How many times have you seen ride operators distracted talking to friends, co-workers or girlfriends. But, another way riders can become injured is just by the speed or G-force of the ride itself.
Cases can range from a rider being thrown from a ride and killed to as simple as a light cover not being properly secured fifty feet above the ground, and falling onto a patron’s head, causing a severe head injury, to people not being properly secured by the operator and sustaining fractured ribs and internal injuries. On certain rides, the operator is required to wait a specific amount of time, before he lets the next patron proceed on the ride. Some cases have involved a water park, where the operator was distracted, and not monitoring how long the previous patron went down the ride, and allowed others to follow, leading to several people colliding at a high rate of speed and causing severe injuries. Other water park injuries included fractures due to the shallow depth of the pool at the bottom of a long slide, and the person’s feet and legs hitting the bottom.
I’m not trying to be an alarmist. The majority of theme park rides are safe and do not cause any injury to the riders. But you can’t leave your and your family’s safety to the owners and operators of the parks. Check for current inspection stickers. Rides that have been inspected and approved will have a green sticker. Rides that have not been approved by State inspectors will have a red sticker; however, don’t get a false sense of security by a sticker. Anything could have happened to that ride, between the date of the inspection and your visit. There is a non-profit website named www.RideAccidents.com that lists all amusement park and ride accidents. It’s a very interesting site that will raise your awareness and help protect yourself and your family.
I hope everyone has a happy and safe Spring and Summer. However, If you or anyone in your family is injured at an amusement park, carnival, water park, or Fair, there are some things you should do immediately:
1. Obviously, get medical attention immediately. (Believe it or not, some parks will not allow ambulances onto their premises to assist the injured person. They insist the ambulance parks outside the park and that the patient is transported to the ambulance. They don’t want other patrons to feel as though the park is dangerous.)
2. Do not make any statements about how the incident happened right away. Park employees in certain parks are trained how to approach you, your family or friends and ask questions in a certain way, so that the answers will make you sound at fault. [From what I understand, the employees who immediately respond to injuries at one of the biggest parks in the world are masters at these interrogation techniques, and you wont even know what they’re doing. They essentially surround you and, in a very pleasant way, use these techniques in your time of stress. Later, your statements are read back to you, and you don’t even recognize them. The way a question is asked can determine the answer, and when you’re under the stress of an injury to yourself or a family member, you’re not taking the time to dissect the questions properly – and they know that!]
3. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Do Not talk or give any statements to anyone associated with the park or their insurance company, until you’ve had the chance to consult with an attorney. They will try to get to you first, but don’t let this happen. Also, there’s a Statute of Limitations that limits the time you can file a lawsuit, and important physical evidence and witness statements can be lost, the longer it takes you to talk to an attorney and get an investigation started.
Have a safe and enjoyable season. If you or a member of your family is ever injured, in any way, including at an amusement park, water park or carnival, call me for a free consultation.
All the best!
Randy C. Redden