Halloween hayrides and other quasi-amusement park accidents are simply just accidents waiting to happen when proper control mechanisms are not in place. When amusement park and hayride injuries occur, these injuries are quite significant because of the number of people involved and the size and weight of the equipment. Hayrides and other quasi-amusement rides have the ability to crush and eject riders causing catastrophic injuries and unfortunately, wrongful deaths. The experienced hayride and defective trailer lawyers at the catastrophic injury law firm of Reiff & Bily have extensive experience representing victims injured in Halloween hayride accidents. Many times these accidents are the result of inadequate supervision or training of ride operators and inadequate site and safety crowd control. Hayrides are often operated in dark and noisy environments frequently visited by children. The operators of these hayrides owe the highest duty in the world to these innocent young victims. Hayride accidents are caused by poor maintenance, lack of maintenance or inadequate supervision at amusement parks, quasi-amusement parks, and/or farms. Hayride accidents seem to be increasing with frequency. The amusement park and hayride operators must not take their responsibilities lightly. If they fail to insure their customer safety because of their carelessness or negligence, they must be held responsible for these injuries and the losses they have caused. Unfortunately, many amusement parks, hayride operators and carnival operators will not settle claims unless a lawsuit is filed. Many times a hayride operator or representative will try to settle a claim as cheap as possible. Most of the time, the first offer will not likely cover ongoing medical needs and future losses.
How Common are Hayride Accidents?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has estimated that the number of serious injuries of hayrides and other amusement rides has risen dramatically. Regulation and inspection of amusement rides, including hayrides, are left up to state or local municipalities and as a result, every site varies from good to none. Most hayrides involve the use of a trailer attached to a tractor or truck pull. NHTSA has admitted that no standards exist for trailer hitches. Unfortunately, in most states, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, very little regulation is addressed with regard to hayrides and trailers that are under 3,000 lbs. We have found that many trailers are made to be just under the gross weight of 3,000 lbs. so as not to be subject to any regulations. Yes, even homemade trailers are allowed and all most states ask is that lights be working at the time of registration and very few states check the quality of construction.
There is no federal law or national agency requiring amusement park operators and hayride operators in every state to file accident reports. There are no general or uniform reporting requirements on a national level for amusements or hayride injuries and fatalities. Since the amusement park and hayride industry is highly unregulated and there is not a uniform system for reporting injuries, a serious danger exists when amusement parks, farms and quasi-amusement parks police their own accidents. This means that innocent consumers and children are left in the dark about which ride is safe for their families.
What Causes Hayride Accidents and Injuries?
Unfortunately, many hayride operators have cut corners on safety, improperly staffing the loading and unloading positions of the rides. Often vehicles are brought to short stops causing people to be thrown from the rides and often times they accelerate abruptly causing innocent children to be thrown from the rides and often under the tires. Many times we find that hayride operators are simply not paying proper attention to the precious cargo on the ride. Many hayride operators are temporary employees and our investigations have revealed that many of these individuals have questionable backgrounds that were not carefully checked out. Liability for hayride accidents involves three types of law: negligence or tort law, product liability law, and premises liability law. The code exempts many trailers and only require that brakes be inspected beyond the initial additional confirmation of a VIN plate. Many state laws, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, are silent as to any design or construction specifications for those vehicles or for towing chains or hitches. In many cases we have found that towed trailers, including hayrides, have obvious safety violations that relate to lighting, braking and inspection requirements. Several factors are known to cause fault in hayride accidents:
- operator behavior
- mechanical failure
- design defects or limitations
- inadequate security
- failure to post proper warnings
- uninspected damage
- improper repairs
- metallurgical or component failure
- improper operation
- improper training of operator
- lack of or improper maintenance procedures
- improper repairs
- loose cables
- rusted belts
- improper belting/security
- lack of safety harness
- failure of safety lock
- sharp and protruding parts
- improper height or weight restrictions
- corrosion of parts
- poor lighting
- electrical shorts/failures
- improper hitching device
- improper assembly
- overloading the ride
- switch failure
- abrupt start/stopping of the hayride
- violation of applicable state codes concerning weight
Media Coverage on Jeffrey Reiff’s Experience in Hayride Accident Litigation
Jeffrey Reiff is a frequent author, speaker, contributor and advocate on the issue of non-regulated amusement and carnival rides. He is frequently featured in both local and national news outlets. Here is some news coverage that Jeff and has been featured on regarding issues related hayride and carnival ride accidents: