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Greene County Ferris Wheel Accident Highlights Safety Risks of Amusement Rides

During the summer months many Tennessee parents took their children to fairs and amusement parks looking for a good time. In particular, children enjoy amusement rides such as ferris wheels and roller coasters. But such rides can also pose a significant risk to the health and safety of children—as demonstrated in one recent tragic case where a six-year-old girl suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Are Third-Party Inspections Sufficient to Protect Children?

On August 8, three girls fell off of a ferris wheel that was part of the Greene County Fair in Greeneville, Tennessee. According to an eyewitness account reported by local media, the girls fell “when their car appear[ed] to get caught as the wheel lifted them upwards, spilling them out.” Doctors at a nearby children’s hospital later confirmed that one of the girls was “in critical condition” after suffering a traumatic brain injury in the fall.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. Just four days before the Greene County accident, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development issued a notice to all “amusement device” operators in the state. The Department noted there had been four reported amusement ride accidents in Tennessee since July 1—again, this did not include the Greene County incident—and reiterated the state’s inspection and notification requirements. The Department is responsible for overseeing amusement devices throughout the state.

However, the State of Tennessee does not personally inspect amusement park rides like the Greene County ferris wheel. Instead, the Department approves “third party inspectors” accredited by outside organizations. And while Tennessee law requires amusement ride operators to “immediately report serious physical injuries, serious incidents and fatalities” to the Department, that does not mean the State will take any action. Indeed, the company responsible for the Greene County ferris wheel was previously fined $56,000 for safety violations by North Carolina officials, yet Greene County still allowed the company to operate its fair rides and the Department of Labor & Workforce Development was set to “automatically renew” the company’s permit based without requiring an in-state inspection.

Get Help From a Knoxville Personal Injury Attorney

Even if Tennessee may be lax in enforcing amusement ride safety standards, that does not mean that parents of injured children are without legal recourse. If your child is hurt on an amusement ride, you may have a cause of action against multiple parties. The ride operator may be liable for any ride that is not properly inspected or kept in safe condition. The operator may also be liable for failing to properly warn patrons of safety risk or giving proper safety instructions. Additionally, the manufacturer of the ride could be responsible under Tennessee product liability laws for defects in the design or production of its devices.

These types of lawsuits are rarely simple affairs. A product liability case often requires expert testimony and a large amount of technical information. That is why you should not consider bringing such a case without the assistance of a qualified Tennessee personal injury lawyer. Contact the offices of Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, Attorneys at Law, in Knoxville or Clinton today if you need to speak with someone right away.

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