More safety concerns with amusement park and carnival rides

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Aug 12, 2011 in Wrongful Death

The West Virginia Division of Labor shut down the rides at a Huntington festival yesterday in a move that echoes safety concerns about carnival rides across the nation. State agencies and the public may be extra cautious following a recent spate of fatal accident s at amusement parks.

By law, out-of-state carnival ride companies must be registered in West Virginia before they can operate here. Registration requires appropriate insurance and a safety inspection. The company is responsible for hiring the inspector, but the state must approve the inspector's credentials.

News outlets did not say if the company in question had a history of safety issues. Representatives from the Division of Labor said that although the company had worked festivals in the past, the state takes a hard-line approach to safety issues and would not allow the rides to operate without the appropriate documentation.

Recent accidents cannot be far from safety officials' thoughts right now -- especially with the news that the family of a man killed in a horrific incident has filed a wrongful death suit against the amusement park management company and owners.

The man was an Iraq war veteran who had lost both legs during his service there. Just a week out of rehab, he and his family had gone to the park. Park employees watched as a relative helped the man into the roller coaster car, apparently unaware of park rules stating that riders had to have both legs.

Minutes later, about 200 feet up, the father of two was thrown from the car. He landed on the tracks, just ahead of the train.

His family claims the employees were not trained properly on safety procedures. The state has already cited the park for failing to train its ride operators.

Another incident earlier this summer -- at yet another park -- left a three-year-old boy dead and a bystander traumatized by his death. The boy's family and the bystander have filed suits against the park.

Clearly, both patrons and employees should follow safety rules at amusement parks and carnivals. Considering recent events, though, park managers shouldn't be surprised if families just stick to the midway.


NBC LEX 18, "W. Va tells Ky. company to shut down rides at fest," Aug. 12, 2011

Lawyers and Settlements, "Lawsuit Filed in Iraq War Veteran Amusement Park Accident," Heidi Turner, Aug. 10, 2011

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