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How Are Amusement Rides Inspected?

The June 14th derailment of the “Sandblaster” rollercoaster in Daytona Beach Boardwalk has once again raised awareness about the fallibility of large, complex machines like amusement attractions. Amusement attractions are offered in large, open spaces that are open to the general public. Of course, the typical understanding is that in payment for admission into the park, or dispensing tickets for a specific amusement, customers are treated to a safe, but entertaining ride experience.

That clearly did not happen at Daytona Beach Boardwalk where a mother and her co-worker were thrown from the derailed front car, and fell over 30 feet to the ground. The other passengers, meanwhile, had to be rescued with ladders from local firefighters called to the scene. The victims on the ground were immediately hospitalized. While it’s unclear what circumstances led to the derailing of the rollercoaster car, one thing is clear; it should not have happened under ordinary circumstances, and there are even safeguards in place that are specifically created to prevent this.


Mandatory Inspections


Any facility, whether it is a temporary fairground that moves around the state or country, or a permanent facility, such as the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, must have its equipment regularly inspected and maintained. This should come as no surprise, considering that Florida has one of the highest concentrations of entertainment complexes in the world, with the likes of Disney and Universal Studios owning and operating elaborate theme parks as major sources of tourism revenue from both other parts of the USA and the rest of the world.

Every facility with amusement park attractions is legally mandated to have those attractions both inspected and maintained. However, the way that these inspections and maintenance routines are executed differs depending on the size of the facility.

For the vast majority of temporary and permanent amusement parks, the state of Florida is legally responsible for conducting inspections, and these facilities must submit to the inspection, or else have their right to operate these attractions revoked. State inspectors notify amusement parks of when these inspections will occur. Furthermore, amusement parks must provide proof of insurance, as well as documents that show appropriate maintenance, significant repair, and training of any employees that are authorized to operate these attractions.

The only exception to these state administered inspections are the larger “mega parks” such as the Disney complexes. Special interest groups acting on behalf of Disney eventually secured concessions from the state government stipulating that if a park had more than 1000 full-time employees, then that park had the option of bypassing state administered inspections. It must conduct inspections on its own with qualified staff and submit those reports.


Public Safety


These inspection measures are put into place to, in theory, protect the public from falling victim to premises liability, which in the majority of cases, is usually known more informally as a “slip and fall” case. Premises liability is when a person gets injured on someone else’s property as a result of negligence. That is to say, the property owner had a legal obligation to maintain a certain minimum standard of safety, such as ensuring the floor was dry enough for people to safely walk on, or that the amusement rides being offered were in a good state of repair, and safe to use.

When a property owner fails in this legal obligation, and doesn’t clean up a mess on the floor, or decides not to repair a faulty ride, that is known as negligence. It simply means that even though the property owner—or people working on the property owner’s behalf—knew that there was something the law demanded they do, they willingly decided not to do it. If an injury arises as a direct result of that negligence, then the victim who was injured due to that negligence can talk to a personal injury lawyer about taking that property owner to court for premises liability.


Legally Responsible


There is only one time when the owners of an amusement park may not be responsible for a passenger’s injury, and that’s if the passenger him or herself was acting in a negligent manner. A passenger in a rollercoaster that deliberately disengages the safety restraints, and stands up in the ride, or even jumps off, cannot then sue the amusement park for personal injury. The park exercised all reasonable care in ensuring passenger safety, and the individual passenger defied that.

But in cases where passengers are obeying all safety measures, and an injury occurs regardless, such as a front car getting derailed and causing a passenger to fall 30 feet to the ground, that is clearly not the passenger’s fault. If you’re ever injured at amusement attraction due to the negligence of the people who are running the park, seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer to find out how you can get compensation for being the victim of premises liability.