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Wilmington Addresses Ride Safety After Accidents at the N.C. State Fair

In October, a serious accident at the North Carolina State Fair left five customers injured and resulted in an amusement operator facing criminal charges. There were some reported concerns that worries about ride safety would depress attendance at the Cape Fear Fair and Expo to be held at the beginning of November at the Wilmington International Airport, but local officials indicated that they did not expect reduced attendance because of the accident. ferris-wheel-at-night-1432593-m

Any premises liability attorney in Wilmington, NC knows that amusement park rides and rides at fairs can be dangerous if the fair operator doesn't take precautions to ensure safety. Fair organizers are not only expected to ensure that rides meet minimum safety standards and won't put others at risk but also need to have sufficient security for the fair so that people are safe and so that there is less risk of injury caused by violence. The fair organizers in Wilmington were aware of the issues that the public might have with coming to the fair in light of recent events and were taking steps to help make the public safer and more comfortable at the event.

Fair Accident and Nearby Violence Causes Worries

According to the Star News Online, the accident left five injured at the N.C. State Fair and likely reduced fair attendance by 11 percent based on reports following the accident. Fair organizers said they were not very concerned about this potential decline in customers because they had not received any phone calls or heard any news about local residents expressing fear of ride injuries. Instead, fair organizers were mostly concerned about the public perception that there might be violence at the fairgrounds given that there have been several Wilmington-area shootings recently. Security was doubled to try to deal with this threat and help to ensure that the community felt safe enough to come to the fair.

Fair Safety Regulations

Although fair operators have a basic obligation to their patrons to ensure that attending the fair is a safe experience, there is little by way of legal oversight on the federal level to ensure that the right steps are taken to prevent injuries.

Regulating ride safety at amusement parks and fairs is largely left to individual states, with USA Today reporting that there is no federal oversight in how states impose and enforce safety rules.  States have taken different approaches to the regulation of rides, with some leaving it to insurers and others the private sector.  In North Carolina, state inspectors with the Labor Department performed a safety check on the rides prior to the fair opening. The law also requires that ride operators perform three daily operational checks and keep a log that state inspectors will review to ensure compliance.

Unfortunately, in this case, the laws were not enough to prevent injury to fair-goers. The fair organizers could face legal responsibility for the harm that came to those hurt on the ride.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, a premises liability lawyer in Wilmington, NC can help. Give us a call today at 1-800-FLEXNER for your free legal consultation.

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