Amusement rides are exciting and fun with their high speeds, climbing hills, and breathtaking drops. But they can also result in dangerous and sometimes deadly accidents when rides malfunction or are operated improperly. Children are particularly susceptible to injuries at amusement parks, carnivals and water parks due to: inadequate supervision, poor maintenance of a ride or even a faulty design.
Young children most at risk for serious injuries at carnivals and amusements
Half of all amusement ride accidents and three-quarters of accidents where a rider is ejected or falls from a ride involve toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school-age children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that two-thirds of all ride-related injuries involve children.
Whether at a small carnival that travels with a handful of rides or a large-scale theme park, carnival rides can pose a serious threat to both children and adults who see the rides only as a source of great fun and entertainment, without fully appreciating the potential dangers.
Illinois laws to protect the public from harm on rides
Recognizing the dangers to riders of carnival rides, some states have begun to implement strict safety policies to protect riders. For example, in Illinois, all amusement parks and rides that are open to the public must be inspected and obtain a permit before the first operation, and must be re-certified every year thereafter.
The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) is responsible for these inspections, and inspects about 5,000 rides every year. Operating an amusement ride that is open to the public without a current Illinois permit is a Class A misdemeanor with fines up to $2,500. Facilities that require inspection include:
- Carnival rides
- Ride simulators
- Ski lifts
- Rope tows
- Mechanical bulls
- Go-kart tracks
- Haunted houses
Despite the fact that carnival rides are intended to be inspected by professionals on a regular basis, it is also recommended that riders take the following precautions to ensure their safety:
- Check for a current IDOL permit sticker.
- Read and obey safety rules about height, weight, and age.
- Listen to the ride operator and follow instructions.
- Do not run around the ride.
- Always use suggested safety equipment.
- Keep arms and legs inside the ride.
- Talk to children so that they know what to expect during the ride.
- Stay seated until instructed.
- Immediately report unsafe conditions or rides without a current IDOL permit, to the police and to IDOL at (217) 782-9347.
Responsibility of rider designers, owners and operators to protect the public
Action is required by amusement ride designers, ride operators and parents to promote safety and reduce accidents. Particularly on rides marketed towards children, designers and engineers have a responsibility to design additional safety precautions, especially on rides that are geared towards young children, taking into account their size and whether they should be allowed to ride alone.
Ride operators should ensure that children have proper supervision, and they should not operate the ride if they cannot maintain safe behavior. In addition, parents need to provide better supervision, follow safety instructions, and decide which rides their children should ride.
Parents need to be aware of the safety requirements and pay attention so as to make decisions on which rides are safe for their children to ride. It is important to remember that children can become excited or even scared on amusement rides and may not always act responsibly. Therefore, it is important to teach your children how to be safe riders and provide supervision.
Bounce houses and inflatables: taking carnival ride danger into the backyard
Bounce houses have quickly become the newest form of fun and injury for small children. A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics shows that injuries from these inflatable novelties have increased 15 times since 1995. In 1995, there were 702 emergency room visits recorded due to injuries from inflatable bouncers. By 2010, this number had jumped to 11,311. About 1/3 of the children brought in with injuries are under the age of five, about half were between 6-12 years of age. The injuries resulted in hospitalization about 3% of the time, which is comparable to trampoline injuries. The most common types of inflatable injuries are:
- Broken bones
- Bruises and contusions
When bounce house injuries occur, there may be several parties that could be liable for the injuries, depending on the circumstance. These range from the operator or renter of the bounce house to the company that leases the inflatables or installs them and even the homeowner in cases where the toys were not set-up or use properly.Free legal consultations with experienced Illinois amusement injury lawyers
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents children and adults that have been harmed while riding on a carnival ride, water park or at an amusement park in cities and towns throughout Illinois and across the Midwest. Our team of Illinois personal injury lawyers has experience representing people injured on carnival rides. We are available to discuss your carnival ride injury with you — free of charge. Call us at 1-888-424-5757.