Discovery in Amusement Park Injury Cases - Expert Article

The esoteric nature of the amusement industry can be a challenge for attorneys during the discovery phase of litigation. In this article, the amusement park safety experts highlight 10 industry documents that may be helpful when litigating amusement park injury cases.

Discovery in Amusement Park Injury Cases

As amusement rides have become more advanced and computer systems more sophisticated, so have the inspection, maintenance, and repair requirements, and the amount of training necessary for staff to perform these tasks. This evolution is not altogether different from the automotive industry, but perhaps more pronounced as it applies to highly customized, multi-million dollar attractions. Modern ride technicians require a traditional mechanical background and often further specializations in hydraulic systems, advanced electronics, computer diagnostics and troubleshooting skills.

To run a safe and successful amusement park, fair, or carnival requires properly qualified personnel, diligent maintenance procedures, and adherence to ride manufacturer guidelines. This level of sophistication requires equally sophisticated record keeping, and knowing what documents are available can prove to be invaluable during the discovery phase of an investigation.

Park Maintenance & Personnel Documents Tell a Story

The amusement industry remains a relatively niche group, with few people possessing a comprehensive grasp of the standard documents or operational procedures. As a result, when injuries or mishaps occur and disputes move to litigation, there can be a long learning curve for industry outsiders.

Through our experience as forensic experts in amusement park cases, it’s become apparent that the same documents that a ride maintenance professional works with would be relevant to attorneys during the discovery process of new cases.

Below you’ll find 10 potential documents to request during the discovery process of new amusement ride injury cases. Having these documents available will not only help with your understanding of the case, but should also provide any technical expert with sophisticated insider-insight with enough information to enhance their investigation.

  1. The ride manufacturer’s Operational and Maintenance manual(s).
    These establish the standards and timelines for required maintenance and operating procedures.
  2. Inspection records.
    These are usually created by the manufacturer and are included in the Maintenance manual. An owner/operator may also create their own version to incorporate additional state regulations or their organization’s best practices. These daily inspection sheets should be signed by the maintenance technician(s) who performed the inspection on the date of the incident.
  3. Inspection and Maintenance Standard Operating Procedures.
    The park’s interpretation and implementation of the ride manufacturer’s requirements.
  4. Preventive maintenance documents.
    These are also to be found in the manufacturer’s Maintenance manual, and will provide a time frame for additional inspections and procedures for the ride. These should also be signed by the technician(s) performing the work.
  5. Incident records.
    Documentation of any unplanned cessation of operation, injuries or corrective actions. Any stoppage of a ride for mechanical or other reasons should be documented, as well as any corrective action required to bring the ride back into service. If there are serious injuries, they need to be reported to the ride manufacturer, as well as state authorities in many municipalities.
  6. Maintenance technician/inspector certification.
    Proof of training and certification to perform ride inspections/repairs.
  7. Park Standard Ride Operating Procedures.
    Park’s interpretation of the manufacturer’s operational requirements.
  8. Ride attendant/operator certification.
    Proof of training and certification to operate the ride.
  9. Manufacturer’s service bulletins.
    Record of any warranty or repair items required by the manufacturer, as well as repair and testing procedures.
  10. Visual documentation.
    Photos or videos of the ride or component involved in the alleged incident.

Navigating the amusement industry can be a hurdle for outsiders, but can be overcome by retaining a qualified technical expert. The documents listed in this article should provide a solid starting point for discovery, but may only scratch the surface, depending on the nature of the incident and the specifics of the attraction.

Engaging an industry expert early in the process promotes efficiency in discovery and builds an attorney’s foundation of knowledge about the amusement industry toward a favorable outcome.

AMUSEMENT PARK FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

Our forensic experts investigate issues involving operational procedures as well as the inspection and maintenance of equipment and machinery at fairs, carnivals, and other amusement facilities.

To discuss your case with an expert, please call us at 800.813.6736 or submit an inquiry.

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