Injuries at Amusement Parks in North Carolina

rollercoasterNorth Carolina officials are issuing a moratorium on Fire Ball rides. One was used in Charlotte at the Carolina Fair at Park Expo weeks ago. On the Fire Ball, riders are swung up 40 feet and spun around at 13 revolutions per minute.

The ride had been inspected and was certified for the Charlotte location. Our Raleigh injury lawyers know that amusement park rides in North Carolina are supposed to be inspected every time they’re assembled. Recently, however, somebody died and seven were injured when one of these rides malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair.

The Fire Ball malfunction resulted in people being thrown from the carnival ride. The riders who were injured included a 14-year-old boy, an 18-year-old girl, a 19-year-old man, and others who were older. Ohio’s governor ordered the rides to be shut down pending safety inspections. All of the rides are to stay closed until each attraction can be inspected.

Most people go to amusement parks for fun, expecting that the rides at the park will be safe. They do not expect to be injured on the ride or in some other way. If you were injured at an amusement park in North Carolina, you may have a basis to bring a premises liability, negligence, or product liability claim.

Which theory of liability to use partially depends on which parties are potentially liable. Parties that may be liable include ride owners, maintenance or repair staff, manufacturers of the ride, ride operators, and others. Sometimes an owner or operator runs a ride in a way that violates a manufacturer’s instructions, while other times they may fail to obtain required permits.

In order to hold a property owner responsible for an injury or death, the property owner must have breached its duty of care, and the breach must have caused the injury or death. The duty of care depends on the nature of the visitor. Historically, there were three classes of visitors:  invitees, licensees, and trespassers. However, North Carolina courts recognize only lawful visitors and trespassers now. In North Carolina, most amusement park litigation will involve a lawful visitor, a customer, rather than a trespasser.

An amusement park owner is supposed to make reasonable inspections of property and owes a duty to take reasonable steps to avoid injuries to anybody on the property, based on dangerous conditions of which it should be aware or is aware. Amusement parks aren’t insurers of the amusement park but are supposed to use reasonable care to maintain the property to protect lawful visitors. Generally, a defendant is only supposed to refrain from willful and wanton actions toward a trespasser.

Some accidents are caused by a defectively designed ride rather than a breach of care by an amusement park. It may be possible to hold a manufacturer of a defective ride liable for injuries or a wrongful death. A North Carolina plaintiff will need to show that:  (1) the ride was manufactured or designed in an unreasonable way, creating a risk of harm to customers, (2) the manufacturer failed to adequately warn customers about the risks associated with the ride, or (3) the manufacturer failed to provide appropriate instructions for the use of the ride.

If you suffered injuries due to the wrongful conduct or negligence of another party, the experienced North Carolina premises liability attorneys at Maurer Law may be able to help you recover compensation. Contact us at 919-229-8359 or via our online form.

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