Fair Ride Operator Faces Criminal Charges After Discovery of Disabled Safety Equipment
Whether it is at a Halloween amusement attraction, October Fest or a holiday carnival, we are heading into the time of years when many people stream to fairs and carnivals set up to attract families during the busy holiday season. We have previously advised consumers about potential dangers at fairs and carnivals in this blog, but these seasonal amusement attractions sometimes continue to pose dangers due to hasty assembly, lax safety standards, improperly trained ride operators and many other safety issues.
A fatal ride accident at a fair in N.C. that was reported widely in the national news serves as an example of this particularly egregious nature of this type of dangerous amusement park accident. A ride operator, who reportedly lives in Quitman, Georgia, has been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon after five people were injured on the ride according to the USA Today report. Witnesses indicated that the amusement ride accident occurred after the ride had come to a stop but then suddenly started up again as people were disembarking from the ride according to the news account. The ride operator was reportedly employed by an independent contractor that provided the rides.
If the operator is indeed convicted of criminal assault and essential safety devices were removed from the ride, this may constitute a basis for not only imposing liability but might even justify punitive damages. Punitive damages are also known as “exemplary damages” or “vindictive damages.” This component of damages cannot be awarded in all personal injury judgments, but may be awarded in certain cases to deter, penalize and punish a defendant. The jury may award punitive damages if the actions of a defendant are shown by “clear and convincing evidence” to manifest malice, willful misconduct, fraud, wantonness or a complete want of care that creates a presumption of the conscious indifference to the consequences of the defendant’s actions.
While the factual showing that will justify punitive damages can vary greatly, intentionally disabling essential safety equipment that is important enough to be required by law might well justify a punitive damage award. The conscious indifference to the safety of others may be revealed by the intentional act of disabling safety devices required by law. These types of traveling carnivals and fairs may experience a disproportionate number of these types of ride injuries when compared with theme parks, because of their temporary nature. However, these rides are subject to regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
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If you or a loved one has been injured or a loved one has died in a fair or carnival ride accident, our Atlanta Personal Injury Attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been helping injury victims and their families for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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