When you think about amusement parks or traveling fairs, chances are you picture spinning rides, carnival games, lively shows and delicious food. Commonly billed as fun for the whole family, this type of entertainment is supposed to be full of opportunities to make great memories. No one visits a festival or a theme park thinking they could be hurt or killed, but the truth is accidents do happen.
Just this July, twelve people were injured when the Jitterbug Swing ride tipped over at Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. While the cause is still under investigation, it has been alleged that the park’s owners were negligent in maintaining the ride, as well as in training their employees. In August, the Dragon Coaster at the same park derailed, although no injuries were reported in that incident. In 2013, the scenic train at the Louisville Zoo was reopened after having been closed for four years due to a derailment that injured 17 people. Notably, in 2007, a 13-year-old girl’s feet were severed by a snapped cable on the Superman: Tower of Power drop tower at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville. The ride was immediately closed, and the girl’s family successfully sued the park.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the federal agency responsible for regulating traveling fair rides, but it has no jurisdiction over rides at fixed amusement parks.
When a ride comes into Kentucky, it must be inspected and approved before it can be put into use. Even after a ride is approved, inspectors can come back at any time for another look, and they have the authority to shut down the ride if there are any problems. Fixed rides must be inspected daily by the operator and must be inspected at least once a year by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Office of Consumer and Environmental Protection. It is this agency that must be notified within 12 hours of an accident. Similar to what happens at a crime scene, ride investigators secure the accident location to make sure nothing is moved, take photos, and gather statements from the witnesses and the ride operators.
This patchwork of laws and absence of a uniform system mean that injuries are underreported. In fact, much of the available data on ride accidents is obtained through voluntary reporting, preventing families from truly assessing the risks. Attractions and parks have a duty to operate rides safely. Common problems include:
- Sudden starts and stops
- Electrical shorts and failures
- Failure to post warning notices
- Failure to shut off or come to an emergency stop
- Improper assembly or installation
- Overcrowding the ride
- Improper height or weight restrictions
- Improper loading and unloading of passengers
- Improper maintenance
- Loose cables
- Malfunctioning lap bars and safety lock failures
- Operator error.
When you’re waiting in line to board a ride, you don’t think about getting hurt or whether you would able to file a successful personal injury
claim if something goes wrong. That’s why we’re here. Since 1998, the Johnson Law Firm
has handled thousands of injury cases from our office in Pikeville. If you were injured while visiting a Kentucky carnival, fair, or amusement park, are the survivor of someone who was killed here, or have any questions about this topic, contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form