Feeling lucky to be alive in Madison, Wisconsin, 13 year old, Trevor Larson and his family are now breathing a thankful sigh of relief. On Thursday July 10, 2015, Dru Larson was filming his son who had just took a seat and belted into a ride called the “Catapult” at Mt. Olympus Amusement Park in Wisconsin Dells.
The ride malfunctioned when one of the main metal cables that catapults it like a sling-shot into the air approximately 200 feet- snapped just seconds before it took flight. Narrowly missing a terrible fate in something out of the Final Destination movie, both Trevor and fellow rider, Carrie Sueker, a Minnesota mother, sidestepped a second brush with death when they both miraculously dodged the recoiling and uncoiling action of the several-inch thick metal cable as it violently snapped around them until it came to rest.
In the eerie heart-stopping video, just before the ride operators buckled the two into the ride, you can hear family members playfully taunt the two saying, "I'll pray for you." And then a voice adds laughing, "The ropes look a little frayed." Someone else adds, "Did they sign the insurance waiver?"
These two were in fact very lucky, because while it is difficult for hospitals to efficiently document all theme injuries and fatalities, throughout the past 15 there have been a reported 2,500- 4,400 injuries a year arising from amusement park rides.
Causes of Amusement Park Ride Injuries
When someone hears that there has been a roller coaster injury or death, it’s common to assume that the ride itself is in fact responsible (mechanical/electrical error). However, injuries and deaths related to theme park and amusement park rides can be a result of operator error. Poor training of employees and the over-working of employees without giving lawful breaks and time off can cause negligence and complacency on the job. People employed with theme parks or amusement parks, especially traveling amusement companies, often work long hours in hot and exhausting conditions. Moreover, ride supervisors and operators may not be educated on all of the changing regulations and safety codes that each ride must meet, which can vary from state to state.
Another contributing factor may be the theme or amusement park company’s failure in their duty to clearly warn riders who suffer from certain pre-existing health conditions of the dangers associated with certain rides, i.e., pregnant mothers, people with heart and lung problems, epilepsy, the elderly or weak. In addition, all operators must use due diligence when ensuring that each rider meets any weight and height restrictions.
What every Tennessean should know is that carnival rides, or “amusement devices” as the law refers to them as, are strictly governed by Tennessee law. The Tennessee Statute creates a safety board and puts in place rules and regulations for people/companies who want to operate amusement rides in Tennessee. One of the biggest requirements is that operators must have annual permits issued by the State. They also need to have the rides regularly inspected, and carry insurance with at least one million dollars in coverage. The State also requires that ride owners shut rides down immediately following an injury, and they are not to be restarted until a new inspection can occur to determine what caused the problem.
If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one due to fatal injuries suffered on amusement park or theme park rides, please call us today for a free no-obligation consultation. Our attorneys can comprehensively investigate your claim to see if you might be entitled to compensation for injuries, resulting necessary medical care, pain and suffering or the emotional and financial costs associated with devastating life-altering injuries or the death or the tragic death of a loved one. We care about our clients and we stand up to the big insurance companies that represent commercial theme and amusement parks. We fight for what you deserve. We fight for you. (615) 425-2500.
As a seasoned Senior Associate with Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, Steve Fifield’s highly-specialized practice focuses on workers’ compensation and complex personal injury claims. Steve Fifield has also worked with Rocky to develop a practice focusing on assisting injured workers who have resolved their claims in the past but are currently being denied needed medical care by an insurance company in violation of Court orders.