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There’s Not Much Government Oversight Over Amusement Parks And Carnivals


Here in South Florida, it seems like amusement park or carnival weather is a year round event, and that’s not even counting the many fixed-location amusement parks, such as Disney or Universal or Busch Gardens or so many others.

When you go to a carnival or amusement park, you assume the rides are safe, and that they are being inspected regularly. But what you may be surprised to learn is that there is far less oversight and inspection of amusement park rides than you may think there are.

The Federal Government’s Role

The federal government only plays a small role in ensuring that rides and amusement parks are safe, because they can only regulate or pass laws on those carnivals that are mobile, and which travel. Fixed parks, like Disney World and so many others like it, are not regulated by the federal government.

For those fixed location parks, the oversight by any government depends on what state you are in, and some states do little or no inspections at all. This means that an amusement park in one state may be safer than one in another state, if that state does more or more vigorous inspections than another state.

And yes—there are many states that have no state requirements, no laws, no requirements to do inspections, at all.

And by some estimates, about 15-20 states have some laws, but not enough to truly protect the public from amusement park injuries, including laws that allow the government to inspect amusement park accidents, or which may require that parks actually report accidents and injuries that happen on premises.

Many states have laws, but they haven’t taken the time to actually draft their own safety standards. Rather, they tend to adopt safety standards put out by private organizations.

Amusement Parks Fight Back

The federal government has tried to make attempts to expand its reach, allowing it to pass laws that regulate fixed location amusement parks. But lobbyists for fixed location parks (which tend to be the biggest ones, with the most power in their respective state governments) fight against this, and the amusement park industry largely blames the general public for injuries that happen at their parks.

No Statistics

Because there is virtually no obligation for amusement parks to report injuries, there are no reliable statistics. Obviously, it is in a park’s best interest not to report an accident. That means there is no way for the general public to know how many parks are safe and which are not. Likewise, there is no way to know what parks conduct what kind of inspections, and which do not.

No Laws Needed to Sue for Injuries

One thing to remember is that to sue an amusement park for negligence in the event you are injured at an amusement park, you don’t need to find that the park violated any written law or regulation at all. Negligence asks whether or not a Defendant acted in due care, the way a reasonable person (or business) would act. It doesn’t matter if there was no actual written law violated or not.

Contact the Tampa personal injury lawyers at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian today. Schedule a consultation today for help if you have been injured in an amusement park or carnival.


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