The devastating ride malfunction at the Ohio State Fair on July 26th has had new developments. We’ve already discussed the potential targets of lawsuits for the Ohio State Fair accident, but some new developments to the case have emerged.
The Dutch manufacturer of the “Fire Ball” spinning ride, KMG, has had its investigators examine the ride, and claimed that the collapse was caused by “excessive corrosion.” Since the ride was 18 years old, this may be a likely cause. However, ride inspectors from Ohio’s Division of Amusement Ride Safety said that they looked over the ride “three or four times.” If the problem was rust, wouldn’t they have caught it?
This leads to a serious question when potential lawsuits might be filed for death or injury after a catastrophic accident: can victims trust what the manufacturer says? This statement from KMG came very quickly after the accident. With potential lawsuits on the line, should we believe the manufacturer’s explanation of the accident? The amusement park accident attorneys at Reiff and Bily will explain some of the factors that go into proving the cause of a ride accident in court, and how to deal with other parties’ theories of how the accident happened.
Amusement Park Victims need Experts on their Side
One of the first things we do after taking on an amusement park case is gather all the facts we can, and hire our own experts to investigate the case. When a ride malfunctions or breaks down and causes injuries, the owners, operators, and manufacturers of the ride may not fully investigate. Though this is not true for every ride operator or manufacturer, their goal may be to quickly fix the ride and put it back into service. Keeping the trust of potential customers that the problem has been resolved may be more important than ride safety.
Benefits of an Expert Witness
Regardless of the operator or manufacturer’s goals, victims should always get their own experts to examine malfunctioning equipment like amusement park or festival rides. The cause of the accident may be a combination of factors, and trusting the manufacturer or operator’s word on the cause may ultimately hurt your case. In order to prove you were injured and get compensation from a court, you must prove how you were injured, and what the operator or manufacturer did wrong. Hiring an expert to independently investigate the ride gives a few benefits, which are incredibly helpful when your case goes to court:
- If your expert’s findings agree with the manufacturer or operator’s investigation, you may not need to prove how the ride malfunctioned. If both sides agree the accident was caused by rust, it’s not an issue that needs to be debated in court.
- If your expert’s findings disagree with the manufacturer or operator, your expert’s cause may be more plausible. In a case where the manufacturer comes up with a confusing or unsure cause of the accident, your expert’s simpler, fact-based cause may convince a jury.
- Your expert can testify in court to help prove your case. The jury is usually instructed to take an expert’s testimony as fact, not just opinion.
Qualifications for an Expert
In the law, the only people we are allowed to call “experts” are people with some special skills, training, or experience that have a greater understanding of how something complicated works. The Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 702 only permits an expert to testify in court if:
- Their “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help [the jury]”;
- The testimony is fact- or data-based;
- “[T]he testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods”; and
- The expert applied those principles and methods reliably.
If the operator or manufacturer has an unqualified expert, they may not even be allowed to present their theory in court. Sometimes, legal battles are won based on hiring the right expert.
Never Rely on the Other Side’s Statements
If you were injured in an accident, you may be looking for someone to comfort you or explain what happened. Especially at a place like an amusement park or a state fair, it may seem obvious to trust the employees of the park and their experience working with the rides and other ride injury victims. However, many of these people may be financially motivated to shut down law suits and convincing you not to sue – or that you can’t sue.
If you were severely injured, always talk to an attorney about your case. Having an attorney with you when talking to the manufacturer or operators of the ride that hurt you can help separate the truth from lies. Ultimately, anything they say could be motivated by fear of a lawsuit. Instead, talk to an attorney to get the real facts.
You may be entitled to substantial compensation for your injuries. Don’t believe the parties responsible for your accident if they tell you what your case is worthless or they have found the cause of the accident. Instead, talk to an attorney to get a realistic idea of what your injuries might be worth, what damages you might be entitled to in court, and what experts to trust. Never accept an offer to settle until you’ve spoken with an attorney about your case and weighed the benefits of fighting your case at trial.
State Fair Ride Accident Lawyers
The attorneys at Reiff and Bily have handled amusement park injury cases across the country, and helped victims receive substantial compensation for their injuries. If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident like the Ohio State Fair ride collapse, talk to an attorney today. Especially if your loved one was killed or seriously injured, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Call (800) 861-6708 today for a free consultation on your amusement park injury case.