Carnival Ride Injuries Expose Many To Lawsuits
In addition to any negligence or defect type claims that could be made, if a child was hurt bad enough, he said a parent could make a claim for bystander emotional distress.
"If you have a parent observe an injury to a close loved one like that, there's the potential claim for bystander emotional distress," said Ziotas.
Ziotas acknowledged that such a bystander claim would not be warranted for a minor injury, only with a significant injury.
Though Connecticut has not seen a trend of lawsuits stemming from injuries on rides at fairs, other states have not been as fortunate.
In 2010, a $3.4 million settlement was reached stemming from an accident on a ride at the Calaveras County Fair in California in 2008.
A Yo-Yo chair ride malfunction caused several injuries serious enough to bring the lawsuit by the families of five young children, one of whom suffered a traumatic brain injury. Altogether 23 people were hurt on the ride.
Chance Rides, the successor business to Chance Manufacturing Co., the company which made the ride that malfunctioned in Norwalk, paid $500,000 as part of the settlement.
Earlier this year, a Philadelphia girl suffered a broken leg that required multiple surgeries after being injured on a ride called the "The Sizzler" at the Allentown Fair in Pennsylvania. She settled her lawsuit for $50,000.
In one of the more tragic fair ride accidents, in 1988 in Broward County, Fla. a 17-year-old girl plunged to her death after the ride's arms broke off. In 1995, her family settled a wrongful death suit with the seven defendants, which included the ride's operator, James E. Strates Shows, Inc. Terms of that settlement were kept confidential.
Experts say ride operators at fairs tend to settle cases rather than go to trial in an effort to avoid the negative publicity about an incident, which could potentially impact business.•