Not Amused? When Your Trip to a New Jersey Amusement Park Results in Personal Injury

Understanding New Jersey Personal Injury Law — and Your Rights — at Garden State Amusement Parks and Carnivals

Summer is here!

That means amusement parks, church fairs and travelling carnivals are opening for the season across New Jersey.

Some of the best memories of childhood originate on exotically-named rides, in line at cotton candy stands, and at gimmicky game booths that populate amusement theme parks, water parks, carnivals or playgrounds. 300 million people every year visit these parks and assume that the parks’ attractions are safe for our families and friends to use.

Certainly no one buys his or her park passes and ride tickets expecting to incur serious injuries. Nevertheless, every year people suffer life-changing injuries caused by negligence; sometimes they even die as a result of negligence. Approximately 150 patrons reported injuries at New Jersey theme parks and carnivals in 2009 alone.

In the State of New Jersey, Amusement parks are strictly regulated pursuant to the comprehensive regulatory scheme established by the Carnival and Amusement Ride Safety Act, N.J.S.A. 5:3-31 et seq. (pdf)

The Act requires both the ride manufacturer and owner operating in New Jersey to submit documentation to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for review. Annual inspections and the purchase of a ride pemit – costing up to $756 per ride – is part of the approval process. Over 3,000 New Jersey rides received permits for operation in 2011. Click here to review the list of permitted rides for 2012.

As a result of our state’s regulation of the amusement park industry, court cases involving amusement park-related injuries can be more complicated than your standard automobile accident claim. That’s because the defendant’s liability won’t hing on a basic “reasonableness” standard that traditionally applied to individual torts but, in these special instances, whether the park and its employees, agents or subsidiaries violated governmental regulations.

These complexities were discussed in the recent unreported decision of Velasquez v. Land of Make Believe, App. Div. 31-2-5682 (per curiam). Plaintiff, Ms. Velasquez, had visited the defendant amusement park and, before entering the waterpark attractions, was allegedly told by a park employee to remove her protective water shoes. A large man subsequently stepped on (and fractured) the plaintiff’s left big toe.

Plaintiff decided to filed an appeal after the trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The appellate court ultimately upheld the trial court’s decision on the ground that plaintiff had failed to present a “liability expert.” The Court believed it was impossible for plaintiff to establish the amusement park’s negligence without such an expert because, without expert testimony, a civil jury could know know whether defendants complied with any hypothetically-applicable state regulations under the Carnival-Amusement Rides Safety Act.

Don’t let the complexities of New Jersey’s legal system deter you from pursuing the recovery you deserve following your amusement park or carnival injury.  The personal injury attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele will thoroughly evaluate your potential claim against the amusement park, interface with expert witnesses on your behalf, explain the litigation process to you in detail including the applicable regulations, and vigorously labor to compile the physical and medical evidence necessary to establish a successful personal injury case.

Don’t rest on your rights. To arrange a free personal injury consultation with DeMichele & DeMichele, please click here to contact us online today or call (856) 546-1350 to speak with one of our personal injury attorneys.