Amusement park legal issues
Amusement park is the generic term for a collection of rides and other entertainment attractions assembled for the purpose of entertaining a large group of people. Amusement park includes a park that is permanent or temporary but does not include an amusement arcade. It is a place that qualifies active recreation as a form of physical exertion or activity engaged in for the purpose of relaxation or enjoyment that is not based on formal competition. (Office of the Queensland parliamentary counsel, 2007),
A park offer a variety of activities from amusement park rides of jet skis, power boats, sailboats and fishing boats to circus, roller coaster or bungee jumping
Amusement Park Accident Injuries and Premises Liability Claims include personal ride injuries, amusement games injuries, parking lot injuries, food poisoning, amusement ride malfunctions, premises liability, municipal liability, slip and fall accidents, falling objects, unsafe conditions, improper warnings and wrongful death.
(April & Maudsley, P.A., n.d)
This paper will address some of the regulations and laws governing the safe operation of amusement games and rides.
These are Laws that make sure that a person’s ticket money should not buy them a ride to the hospital. One does not pay to take chances and give up the right to a safe recreational environment.
Different states have different ways of parks regulations and each does so differently. Some have similarities for example there are four states that regulate only mobile rides, California conducts state inspections, Mississippi gives local jurisdictions oversight authority for all amusement rides except the state fair, and Rhode Island allows insurance company inspections, but steps in for an accident situation. The District of Columbia conducts its own inspections. Many states allow local jurisdictions to further regulate amusement ride safety if such regulation does not conflict with state law. (California State Library, 1997)
Inspections, permits and licenses
The amusement rides are subject to two types of inspection as a condition of being licensed by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Firstly they must pass a safety inspection conducted at least once every year by a qualified inspector or engineer approved by DPS to certify them as reasonably safe for public use. DPS set its own fees for inspection. Secondly when the operator applies to DPS for the required amusement-operating license, any inflatable ride that the operator intends to use must pass a DPS inspection in addition to the annual inspection. Malicious inspectors can overcharge the amusement parks or inspectors deceived by competitors in the market since the DPS sets its own inspection fees through its inspectors. (Veronica Rose, 2007)
The public Act 06-42 on DPS Licensing and Inspection which took effect on October 1, 2006 act exempts inflatable amusement rides leased for private residential use from inspection. It specifically requires DPS to inspect mechanical rides, but it does not specifically require inspection of non-mechanical rides, including inflatables. Were it not for the state fire marshals which requires full inspection inflatables would not be inspected. (Veronica Rose, 2007) Furthermore some States such Arizona, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee and Texas don’t have Government employees to conduct inspections, but assign this to insurance companies or other private organization. Kathy Fackler (July 2004)
Most states require inspectors to be licensed professional engineers, with experience in amusement device inspection. Some states hire staff inspectors, while others contract out. Some states use insurance company inspectors, but require the company to be licensed to do business within the state. The state’s regulating board or department must certify inspectors. State inspectors often inspect elevators, tramways and ski lifts as well. From the department of public safety inspection regulations for inflatable amusement rides “The law governing inflatable amusement ride inspection and licensing is unclear. Among the reasons for this is that the law does not refer to inflatable amusement rides, except to exempt those leased for residential use from the definition of amusement and therefore from regulation.”(Veronica Rose, 2007)
Even though the law does not specifically reference inflatable rides, the inspection requirement applies to them, according to the state fire marshal, because the State Fire Marshal’s office must “inspect [the amusement] in full,” as a condition of licensing. Amusement parks, which typically set up operations in different venues, must be licensed by DPS. For example, if an operator sets up an amusement at five different venues over the course of a weekend (e. g. For graduation parties), he or she must pay licensing fees. (Veronica Rose, 2007)
The personal injury laws recognize the responsibility that liable parties have to compensate the victim for medical expenses, loss of wages, and loss of enjoyment of life. Without prompt legal representation, you may unknowingly sign away your rights to full compensation due to the pressure tactics of insurance claims adjustors or property owners. Eyewitnesses may become difficult to locate, and the evidence may be swept away. Personal law firms are able to reveal documented instances of injuries suffered though freedom of information requests. These are the kind of reports that could almost never get from private operators. Ms Fackler who founded Safer Parks after an amusement park ride chopped off half of her Son’s foot, says that parks usually try to keep full incident reports away from the public eye, Disclosing only the amount Government regulations require. “Playland, the only park in the country owned and operated by a county, is required upon request to reveal information that other amusement parks can more easily keep confidential.” Ms Fackler said. (Thomas Cramption, June 13,2004)
About thirty years ago permanent amusement parks were subject to local building codes other than any special state or federal oversight. This only began to change because of accidents and therefore the regulations began being implemented.
On September 26, 1967, At the Kern County Fair, a teenage girl died when she was thrown from a carnival ride at the Kern County Fair. Two girls were riding in a car on “The Scrambler” a ride, which at times creates a large amount of centrifugal force; when the door suddenly opened. One girl was thrown from the ride, while the other managed to wedge herself into her seat until the ride was stopped. The coroner ruled the death accidental. While an examination of the ride showed the door latch to one car was defective, there was no evidence presented that the deceased had ridden in that car. (California State Library-APPENDIX A, 1997) However, the Coroner did find negligence on the part of the ride operator. In response, Assembly member George Zenovich (D-Fresno) introduced Assembly Bill 888, on March 6, 1968. This bill established the Amusement Rides Safety Law. The bill originally would have regulated all amusement rides in California. However, when the bill reached the Senate floor for a final vote, Senator George Danielson (D-Los Angeles County) amended the bill. His amendments excluded permanent rides from state oversight. (California State Library, 1997)
In 1978 there were a number of serious accidents at California amusement parks. The next year, Senators Bill Greene and Alan Sieroty introduced the first in a series of unsuccessful attempts to remove the state exemption for permanent amusement rides. Others who tried were Assembly member Richard Floyd in 1981, and Senator John Garamendi in 1987. (California State Library, 1997)
In 1983, Senator Ray Johnson carried a bill that clarified and strengthened the Amusement Rides Safety Law. The changes applied only to mobile rides. Senator Johnson’s bill received wide support. The bill made it through the entire legislative process without a single vote being cast against it and became law. (California State Library, 1997)
On October 27, 1991, a 29-year-old man fell to his death near Perris California in the nation’s first fatal bungee jumping accident. An industry safety consultant found that the deceased had not properly attached himself to the bungee cords therefore there were no court cases were filed. Having determined that the laws regulating portable amusement rides also applied to bungee jumping, Cal-OSHA issued regulations regarding bungee jumping, on November 25, 1991. The next year Assembly member Paul Horcher introduced AB 2778. The bill as enacted specifically included bungee jumping in the list of amusement rides under state regulation. (California State Library-APPENDIX A, 1997)
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, ten thousand people are injured on mechanical and inflatable amusement rides. Half of these accidents involve children less than fourteen years. An inquiry to investigate restraint systems on portable amusement rides was prompted by serious accidents at traveling carnivores including the partial ejection of an 8 year old girl from Wacky Worm in Hamburg, 1999; the ejection of a 5-year-old girl from the same ride in Danbury 2001; ejection of an 8 year old girl from the twister in Indiana in 2001; and ejection of a 6 year old boy from the Wipeout in California in 2001. Accidents like this happen at theme parks also, but the commission does not investigate them and no federal agency does so. (Kathy Fackler, 2004)
Considering the preceding discussion, we draw the following four conclusions: first there is a wide variation in how and to what extent each state regulates its rides. Mississippi is one of only four states that regulate only mobile amusement rides. Secondly regulation and safety data do not account for all amusement ride-related deaths. Furthermore its difficult to distinguish between regulated and unregulated parks because of the different laws. Thirdly ewe cannot determine the cause of all of the accidents. Since we cannot assign responsibility for the accidents, we cannot accurately characterize the risks and it is difficult to tell the risky activity because of scarcity of data example there is no enough data available to tell if water parks are more or less risky than other types of amusement parks. However, the recent waterslide collapse in Concord was one of four collapses in the country since 1980 and the first in nearly sixteen years. (California State Library August 1997). Finally the history of amusement parks safety laws tells us that the Legislature typically reacts to high profile accidents by investigating current laws and regulations and introducing proposed changes.
Office of the Queensland parliamentary counsel (August 2007)”Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Act 2000” accessed 14th April, 2008 from:
Law Firm of April & Maudsley, P.A. (n.d)”Personal injury, criminal defense and family law” Accessed o 14th April 2008 from
Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst. (May 1, 2007)”department of public safety inspection regulations for inflatable amusement rides” Accessed on 14th April, 2008 from:
California State Library (August 1997)”Amusement ride Laws and Regulations” Accessed on 14th April 2008 from:
Kathy Fackler (July 2004) “How safe are Thrill Rides?” on The New York Times, Accessed on 15th April 2008 from:
Thomas Cramption, (June 13,2004), “Playland Ride Injuries” on the New York Times, Accessed on 16th April 2008 from: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9407E0D91430F930A25755C0A9629C8B63&st=cse&sq=Amusement+parks+personal+injury+laws&scp=2
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