Most of the people visiting Six Flags Great Adventure, one of the amusement parks on the Jersey Shore or a local carnival this summer want their rides to be exciting and a little scary but not actually dangerous. The thrill should be in the heights these rides reach and the sudden twists, turns and drops – not in wondering whether you’ll make it through in one piece.
Only about 6% of those injured on amusement park rides every year require hospitalization or don’t survive. However, serious ride injuries often have long-term, catastrophic consequences even if they don’t end up being fatal.
Who monitors ride safety? It depends
You might assume that an industry with so much potential for danger would be regulated by the federal government. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case – at least for “fixed” parks.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was once in charge of overseeing fixed and “mobile” parks. The latter include traveling carnivals and fairs that move from town to town – often during the summer. Largely due to pressure from lobbyists for the amusement industry, lawmakers removed fixed parks from the CPSC’s purview.
The Carnival and Amusement Ride Safety Act
That means state and sometimes local governments are responsible for the parks in their area. Under New Jersey’s Carnival and Amusement Ride Safety Act, the state has an annual ride inspection program overseen by the Bureau of Construction Project Review. That program also includes ski lifts.
According to the state’s Department of Community Affairs, “A manufacturer is required to have their ride type certified prior to its sale for operation in New Jersey, whether at a fixed park or with a traveling show….The annual permit assures that the ride is inspected annually and the owner has met all outstanding violations and has proper insurance….”
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed on an amusement park or carnival ride, it’s important not to agree to any type of settlement with the owners or operators before seeking legal guidance. Often, those in the industry try to settle these cases quickly and quietly. However, it’s crucial to find out precisely what happened and who is liable. This can help you get the compensation you need and also help ensure that no one else is harmed or worse.