On Sunday, a carnival worker was critically injured when he fell forty-five feet from the outside of a Roll-O-Plane carnival ride at the Plaza Fiesta on Buford Highway in DeKalb County.The outdoor carnival is operated by Gold Medal Shows.
According to witnesses, the worker was trying to secure a door of the ride when the ride started moving and he was hoisted into the air.The Roll-O-Plane is a bullet-shaped passenger cabin that spins upward by a single rotating arm.After losing his grip at the top of the ride, the worker plunged onto a steel support beam at the base of the ride.
Two teenage brothers were inside the ride with an unsecured door at the time of the accident.Their horrified mother watched from below while they were trapped atop the ride for twenty minutes.DeKalb County Firefighters rescued the teens.Initial reports blame human error for the mishap.
The Consumer Product Safety Commissioner (“CPSC”) is the federal regulating arm of traveling carnivals.The CPSC collects data on carnival ride accidents.Approximately five thousand emergency room visits are made annually as a result of carnival ride accidents. The CPSC estimates there are ten thousand accidents a year when including fixed ride sites such as those found in theme parks. The Consumer Product Safety Commissioner does not inspect fixed ride sites as these are left to state regulation.
Only twenty-seven states have government ride inspection and accident investigation statutes.Georgia does have strong carnival and amusement ride inspection statutes.The Georgia Department of Labor provides for safety and inspection standards for all carnival and amusement park rides.The Georgia Code also provides for safety standards.Permits are required annually.Carnivals must carry up to a million dollars in liability insurance; amusement park rides must carry up to five hundred thousand dollars in liability insurance.Inspections are made at the time of ride set-up and are spot-checked periodically thereafter.
Still, even with inspections and investigations, accidents at carnivals and amusement parks do occur.Some have serious consequences.In June of 2007, a thirteen-year-old girl had her feet severed from a flying cable at Six Flags over Kentucky.In July 2006, a fifty-two-year-old man died on a roller coaster at Busch Gardens.In June 2006, a twelve- year-old boy died after riding Walt Disney World’s Rock ‘n Roller Coaster.In April of 2006, a forty-nine-year-old woman died on Disney’s Mission: Space.In June 2005, a four-year-old boy died on Disney’s Mission: Space.In the same year, another person died on Disney’s Space Mountain.
Emerging data is now linking brain hematomas to rides with strong G-forces.Research has prompted calls for G-force limits.This may account for the number of serious injuries related to Disney’s Mission: Space since the ride opened in 2003.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that when deciding to visit a carnival or theme park you follow these guidelines:
1. Check the park’s Injury Reporting Records.If the park has a consistency of accidents that occur due to structural or maintenance failure … go elsewhere.
2. Take note of a park’s general appearance.The grounds should be clean and well kept; there should be adequate personnel; and no alcohol should be permitted on site.
3. Read the warning signs and abide by them.
4. Assess the conduct of the ride operator.The operator should not be engaged in any occupation other than operating the ride.
5. Assess the ride’s appearance.It should not appear rusty or in bad condition.
6. Be alert to other riders.The leading cause of accidents is rider misconduct.
7. Do not force children to ride.Children under the age of thirteen are the highest risk of injury.
If you believe you or someone you love has been injured at a carnival or amusement park, then you may have claim that arises under general premises liability law or product liability.Contact Robert N. Katz for a free, private consultation to assess your rights.