Whether it’s getting together with a group of friends to enjoy a festival or a family outing to a fair or carnival, these can be great sources of entertainment and fun. But when something goes wrong, a festival, carnival or fair accident can lead to serious or even fatal injuries. Establishing vendor liability – or that of another party – can be complicated, though. Premises liability or manufacturer liability may apply in many instances.
Common Types of Injuries Sustained in Festival, Carnival or Fair Accidents
One of the most recent tragedies to strike was the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in 2011. Just before the musical group Sugarland was to take the stage, wind gusts of 70 mph caused the stage to collapse, killing seven and injuring more than 40 people.
Rides are one of the more common sources of injuries at festivals, fairs and carnivals. Some of the types of accidents that can happen include rides that malfunction, objects that strike someone in the head, limbs caught in moving parts, cables snapping, brakes failing and improper restraint of riders.
Severe accidents can cause concussions, traumatic amputations, lacerations, brain damage, fractures and decapitation.
Liable Parties for Festival, Carnival or Fair Accidents
The previously mentioned incident at the Indiana State Fair led to Sugarland’s tour manager becoming the focus of lawsuits. Despite a concert promoter expressing concerns about weather conditions, it was alleged that the tour manager dismissed them.
But there was some confusion as to who was actually in charge. Concerns were also raised regarding the design of the stage being inadequate – showing that determining liability in these types of cases sometimes can be challenging.
When it comes to these types of events, festival organizers could be liable. In the stage collapse tragedy, the state of Indiana also had some liability and ended up paying millions to the victims, which shows that cities and/or states potentially could be held responsible when there are injuries or deaths at a festival.
Some accidents could lead to those hosting the event being liable, such as a church or park. And if the source of an accident is a failure to inspect or maintain the equipment properly, then those responsible for setting them up (maintenance workers) and the park itself may be held liable.
In New York, the State Department of Labor is responsible for regulating rides. However, in New York City, that responsibility lies with the city’s Building Department. These agencies oversee both fixed and mobile amusement rides, including inspections before they get set up and whenever there is an accident or complaint filed.
If the design of the ride is poor, engineers might be held liable. Design flaws also apply to structural defects, such as with tracks and framing.
Some accidents are caused by human error, for instance, if the operator of the ride fails to give proper instructions or doesn’t ensure someone is securely restrained.
Vendor Liability is Dependent on Negligence
The basis of any claim is going to be proving negligence. This means establishing that the vendor or another party acted in a careless or reckless manner that eventually led to the patron’s injuries.
But in cases where a defective product itself causes injuries (such as a ride and/or its parts), then strict liability would apply — whether or not someone was careless or reckless, the manufacturer could be held responsible for injuries.
There are many factors to consider when determining liability for injuries sustained at a festival, carnival or fair accident. For help understanding one’s legal rights, contact an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates. Give us a call at (800) 246-4878 to set up a consultation.