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Thrill of summer carnival rides hold risks; inspections, safety guidelines vary by state

June 27, 2024

Plus, recreational activities participation requires judgment – follow these tips to assess safety 

Media contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications, 248.260.8466; barbara@eafocus.com

Southfield, Mich. ---June 26, 2024--- From the annual hometown carnival midway to established theme parks, going to an amusement park is a favorite American pastime. And while the thrill of modern rides and rollercoasters is impossible to replicate, are they safe? A. Vince Colella, a founding partner of Moss & Colella, P.C., a Southfield, Michigan-based law firm specializing in personal injury and civil rights, cautions riders to think twice before getting on a ride, big or small.

“Amusement park rides, whether well-established rides permanently installed at national amusement parks, or those found at traveling carnivals that get shipped and reinstalled, hold inherent risks for riders,” Colella said. “Just because the operators claim the rides have passed safety inspections and appear to be safe because of their popularity, that is not always the case. According to the Michigan Carnival-Amusement Safety Act, rides are generally required to be inspected once annually – but problems can arise in the interim.” 

Earlier this month, a thrill ride at an established Portland, Oregon, amusement park malfunctioned and held riders upside down for 30 minutes. There were no reported injuries, but riders were evaluated at a nearby hospital. In October 2023, an eight-year-old boy was severely injured at the Virginia State Fair when he was thrown from a ride after being sucked under the protective lap bar. 

Though the Michigan Carnival-Amusement Safety Act provides guidelines for safe operations of amusement and carnival rides, this doesn’t guarantee that the inspections and safety requirements are met. There are no federal regulations regarding amusement parks, so safety requirements and standards can vary from state to state, including six states that have no regulations

In Michigan, carnival and amusement ride operators are under no duty to report an injury. Yet riders are required to give notice of an injury before leaving the operator’s premises - although notice is not a prerequisite to filing a civil action related to an incident. 

In addition to amusement park rides, pop-up entertainment activities, such as portable rock-climbing walls, trampolines, and ziplines can also pose serious risks. While an individual is likely to sign a waiver before one of these activities, the waiver only acknowledges that the individual knows he or she is participating in a dangerous activity and accepts the risk associated with it. With amusement parks, the waiver may be printed on the tickets, requiring no signature and likely not read by the purchaser.

“It’s erroneous to assume that because an activity is legal and operational, it is safe. That is not always the case. People need to exercise good judgment when deciding to participate in a thrill-seeking activity,” Colella advised. “Observe the attraction’s setting, the condition of the attraction itself, and whether the employees operating the attraction are attentive at all times. In many cases, it’s the lack of training or attention by the employee that increases the risk of the ride or activity.”  

About Moss & Colella

Established in 1997, Moss & Colella represents the victims of personal injury, civil rights violations, discrimination, and wrongful death.  The firm is recognized as a leader in complex tort litigation, including excess and deadly force, jail death, sexual abuse and harassment, auto and truck accidents, and other serious injury and wrongful death claims.  To learn more about the firm and its diverse areas of practice, visit www.mosscolella.com.

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About the Firm

The attorneys of Moss & Colella have carefully chosen their career paths to fight for those that have suffered from injury and wrongful death. We believe every citizen should have the right to hire the best lawyer who will actively advocate for their case.

David Moss and Vince Colella have over 60 collective years of personal injury trial experience that provides you a level of legal services and success unmatched by other firms. By working together, we have the ability to find creative, effective, and efficient solutions to even the most complex cases. No matter what situation you face, we will help you get through it.

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