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Maryland Fairs On High Alert After Fatal Accident At Amusement Park

Posted on: August 24, 2017

Social media feeds throughout the US were inundated with a disturbing video on and after July 26, 2017, when users shared content showing a man’s death aboard a carnival ride at the Ohio State Fair. Seven other riders were injured when “The Fireball” ride’s passenger-carrying equipment detached from the main unit, sending passengers hurtling into the air; the victim who died was ejected 50 feet, according to officials.

CBS Baltimore WJZ Channel 13 reports that the incident in Ohio has prompted Maryland authorities to take a closer look at amusement parks and fairs in the state. Specifically, experts are inspecting the “Freak Out” attraction in Ocean City, as the ride is the same design as the one that caused the fatal accident. In Maryland, inspection of such attractions is managed by the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation’s Safety Inspection Unit. Various county fair officials also stated that they perform their own inspections on a daily basis.

Duty of Care for Amusement Park Operators

If you suffer personal injuries due to an incident at an amusement park, premises liability concepts apply. Various parties may be liable when a dangerous condition presents a hazard upon premises such as a building or on land, including the rides, activities, and general environment at a fair. The duty of care generally falls into two categories at this type of entertainment event:

  • Rides and Attractions: An operator must ensure that rides and other attractions are safe for a reasonably foreseeable use. There may be no liability and no claim if the victim engaged in some type of unforeseeable use, such as tampering with a safety harness or extending arms outside of a ride.
  • Other Areas of Amusement Parks: The duty of care for other areas of event grounds is similar to that of a business owner. The operator must keep the premises free from hidden dangers, either by making repairs or providing patrons with adequate warnings. For instance, it would be necessary to post signs about slippery surfaces, install railings on stairs, and clean up spills as soon as possible.

At the same time, if a hazardous condition is open and obvious such that a reasonable person would recognize the risks, an operator may not be required to warn about dangers.

Breach of the Duty of Care

There are a number of ways that a defendant may breach the duty of care with respect to rides and attractions. Some examples include failing to provide adequate safety restraints or harnesses, falling short on proper maintenance and repairs, and not properly training and managing employees.

Because the duty of care includes inspections to discover defects, an amusement park operator will probably not succeed on a claim that a ride malfunction was an unexpected accident. Rides are inherently dangerous, especially when they malfunction. For this reason, the standard of care is higher and proper inspections are critical.

As with other businesses, an amusement park operator is responsible for the negligent actions of its employees. There may be a breach of the duty of care where staff fails to instruct riders about proper use of attractions, mismanaging crowd control, providing inadequate security, or failing to control animals during a performance.

Products Liability Cases

In some cases, it may be possible for an injured victim to pursue the manufacturer of a ride under the theory of products liability. An amusement park ride or attraction may be defective due to the same issues involved with a defective product, such as if:

  • The design of the ride contained a flaw that made it more likely to malfunction. If the “Freak Out” in Ocean City was manufactured in the same way as “The Fireball” in Ohio, and there is a design flaw, both machines are defective and the manufacturer may be liable for damages.
  • The ride was improperly manufactured, making a malfunction more likely. Under the concept of manufacturing defect, Maryland’s “Freak Out” attraction may not be affected.
  • The manufacturer failed to include proper warnings about the inherent dangers of the ride or proper instructions on how to ensure passenger safety.

Status of the Injured Victim

The presence of the victim at the amusement park may be an issue in a premises liability case. Maryland law will not allow recovery of damages for a victim’s injuries if they occurred because he or she was unlawfully present at the time of the accident. A person who is a guest of the park, in a public place and during normal operating hours can probably recover. A trespasser, whether present after hours or in restricted locations, will likely not be allowed compensation.

As the investigation has continued over the weeks since the amusement park accident at the Ohio State Fair, officials have discovered a potential cause: Excessive corrosion in the interior of the passenger-carrying support beam reduced the strength of the equipment over the years, causing the ride to malfunction. Still, it may not be so easy to establish fault in when a victim suffers injuries on amusement park or fair grounds. Inspections help, but cannot totally prevent accidents from happening.

Read Some of Our Recent Client Reviews!

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The lawyer who was initially handling my case parted ways with the company and I was assigned a new lawyer. This new lawyer was amazing! Christina Franetovich made me feel secure by double checking all the facts and notes in my case so that I was not worried during this transition. I was on disability from an a different accident while she was finalizing my case, and I had called and hounded her about the time frame of my settlement very frequently to the point that I felt guilty for calling so much. Christina was very sympathetic to my situation and assured me that she would do everything in her power to make sure the situation would be resolved quickly. She actually finalized my case before the time frame she had given me, was always very courteous and knowledgable on the phone, and I feel extremely lucky that she ended up handling my case because the previous lawyer was not as amazing with customer service as Christina. She also has a way of making you feel comfortable and builds incredible rapport quickly. I am going to highly recommend her to my friends and family. Thank you Christina!!!
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Andrea Barajas
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My husband and I were in a car accident in August 2017. We contacted Bob Katz team for legal representation in our case. Kristen A. Turner was our paralegal and she was excellent. It took 9 months for us to receive our settlement and Kristen kept us updated throughout this entire process. She was very kind and patient as I happened to have several questions. She always answered my questions promptly and thoroughly. I would highly recommend this firm and Kristen if you are in need of legal assistance.
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I was referred to Gordon & feindblatt in 2014 when my family was in an accident, Mr. Katz personally consulted with me by phone and he was very polite and professional, Mr. Carpuso, one of the litigation attorneys even came out to our home and went over our case with us, he made sure all of our needs was addressed and before he left our home that day I felt like we were old friends. that case was settled and I was very pleased, I have used this law firm twice since then and the results are always the same, I have nothing but great experiences with Gordon & Feindblatt the staff are courteous and professional and they get the job done but the one in particular that really stood out for me is Rebecca Slattery, she is truly a gem, she is so compassionate, she walked me through the entire process, she even checked up on me from time to time just to see how I was feeling and I really appreciated her kindness. I will use this law firm again and again for any future legal issue that may arise and I would highly recommend Gordon & Fiendblatt to friends, family and co-workers.
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TheOfficalCeeandDee
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My experience here was great. My lawyer Rebecca was so professional and I love her personality. She handled my case well and kept me updated and made the process easy and always made me feel comfortable to call whenever I needed to know anything.
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They were very polite, professional. and informed current status of the case time to time. Great Job !!!
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If you ever need any assistance with an accident or injury-related claim this is the firm you need hands down. These are the most professional and caring people I have ever met in my life. Two people you should contact are Rebecca Slattery who was actually my paralegal and also Allan Serrano. You will be in good hands.
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Israel Thompson
00:52 06 Dec 17
Attorney MR Bob Katz outstanding Human being, went beyond and above to help me during my accident, he showed me tremendous kindness and support.Thank you so much will highly recommend him to anyone who needs help with their auto accident
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Marta Kritselis
16:19 01 Sep 17
Rebecca Slattery the paralegal She took care my case and she was very helpful throughout the whole process. I highly recommend to my family and friend the services of Attorney Bob Kats and there team .
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I am grateful to Bob and Justin Katz and their team for working hard to get me the most money. They were very professional and easy to work with in Korean. I will recommend them to friends and family any chance I have.
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