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Settlement reached in North Carolina amusement park ride lawsuit

A serious incident at the North Carolina State Fair illustrates just how dangerous amusement park rides can be when negligence is involved.

In October 2013, a man, his wife, her son and her niece were on board The Vortex at the North Carolina State Fair. According to WRAL, the ride began to move as people were exiting. The family was thrown from the ride and suffered serious injuries.

A judge recently approved the final settlement in a suit the family filed. As any personal injury attorney would know, amusement park rides may be fun, but they are certainly not without risk.

Case details

When the four people were thrown from the ride, the man had injuries to his spinal cord, brain, skull and neck. He was hospitalized for nearly four months and is expected to need medical care throughout his lifetime. The woman and her son and niece suffered serious injuries.

According to the family’s attorney, their medical costs could amount to more than $30 million. In April of last year, the family filed a suit seeking $150 million in damages, listing the following defendants:

The owner of the ride and the worker were charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury. According to ABC 11, the worker pleaded guilty to the charges in June of this year. An investigation revealed that a device that was supposed to keep the ride from moving had been disabled prior to the accident.

The settlement

The family’s attorney argued that the defendants prioritized generating revenue. The defendants, the lawsuit claimed, failed to fix problems that had been identified with the ride.

In December 2014, the family reached a partial settlement with three of the four defendants, though the amount was undisclosed. ABC11 reports that in August of this year, the company that puts on the fair reached a settlement with the family.

Amusement park safety

According to a National Safety Council survey evaluating 357 amusement park facilities, there were 1,221 rider injuries in 2013 on U.S. amusement park rides. The report notes that roughly 40.5 percent of the injuries that occurred happened on roller coasters.

Further, the Insurance Information Institute points out that in 2012, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 43,846 people needed medical attention following an injury due to an amusement attraction. Of those, 1,112 were treated in a hospital and are now deceased.

How accidents happen

These incidents occur all too often due to negligence. Negligence in an amusement setting can manifest through a failure to post warning signs, a lack of proper training for staff or a failure to inspect and maintain rides. There is also the possibility that a defective product led to the incident. For example, if a lap bar on a roller coaster is faulty, it could unlatch and cause someone to fall out of the ride.

Whenever negligence causes the incident, the victims or their families have the right to take legal action. Anyone who has suffered an injury in an amusement park due to these situations should contact an attorney.