One of the things that Alabama residents enjoy doing for recreation is attending the various fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks around the state. The Alabama National Fair in Montgomery opens from October 25 – November 5 of this year, which is another opportunity to enjoy a long-running tradition. There is also the possibility for serious injury should one of the rides at this popular fair break or malfunction.
Thousands Injured Annually by Amusement Park Rides
Amusement park and fair ride accidents are in the spotlight once again after the tragic incident that took place in Ohio this past summer. When a ride malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair, one person died, and seven more were injured. In 2016, three girls were injured when they fell from a Ferris wheel in at a Tennessee county fair. In Kansas, a 10-year old boy was killed due to a defect on the world’s tallest water slide.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 30,900 injuries occurred last year alone due to amusement park attractions. The types of rides that can cause serious injury can vary from small coin-operated rides to carousels and bumper cars to large roller coasters. One 20-year research study found that 70% of injuries occurred during summertime when most amusement parks are open and state fairs are held.
Amusement Park Injuries and Accidents in Recent Years
Too many people make the mistake of thinking that only the bigger and faster rides cause problems. Those rides can lead to some catastrophic injuries and even death, but just about any type of ride can cause serious injury. Most of these rides sit on hard surfaces, so just the act of falling out of an attraction can lead to injury.
Injuries from these amusement park accidents range from minor cuts and scrapes to issues that may be life-threatening. Some common injuries include head and neck problems, soft tissue injuries, and traumatic brain injury.
There are a variety of reasons why an amusement park or carnival injury might occur. Over a 10-year period, some of the most common causes of these accidents include:
- Ride defects, including weight-bearing issues
- Equipment and cable defects
- Poor ride maintenance
- Park guests entering unsafe or restricted areas
- Ride safety bar issues
What Happens If I Get Injured at a Fair or Carnival?
When the above-referenced study was published, the authors suggested that more regulations needed to be in place to make these rides safer for the public. Unfortunately, the ability of the CPSC to oversee these rides was taken away back in the 1980’s. The CPSC only deals with the regulation of mobile rides, which are those that you’ll find at local carnivals.
Fixed-site rides, such as the ones you find at amusement parks and some large fairs are now regulated by state and local governments, which has led to a complex and fragmented system. What does this mean for fair rides in Alabama? It’s not good news.
Alabama remains one of just six U.S. states that has no provisions for the inspection of amusement parks. Since no federal agency has jurisdiction over fixed-state amusement parks, regulations and inspection are left up to the state. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) may review accidents after the fact, but they won’t take prevention measures.
Liability for Alabama Amusement Park Accidents and Injuries
Not only can carnival ride injuries be serious and life-changing, but the liability issues involved with these cases can also be complex. In many of these cases, the accident and injuries could have been prevented if it weren’t for negligence. Even without government oversight, amusement parks and fairs have a duty to ensure that their rides are safe for the public. Each ride should be maintained, serviced, and inspected regularly to ensure that hazards don’t exist. When this duty of care is breached, the chance of an accident occurring increases and injured parties can bring suit for damages.
If you or a loved one have suffered from an injury while attending a carnival or fair in Alabama or while riding any of this state’s amusement park rides, it’s important that you speak with an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney as soon as possible. These ride operators will try to avoid any negative publicity and may attempt to settle a case quickly. This is never in your best interests. The skilled and knowledgeable legal team at McPhillips Shinbaum understand this system and know what it takes to protect your right to cover just compensation.