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Thoughts on an Amusement Ride Accident


greg van gompel amusement park  entertainment lawyer attorneyBy Greg Van Gompel

Hopefully that is why you can feel my frustration and disappointment when I read about a 3 year old child falling from a Techno Jump amusement ride at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, Texas last week.  I assure you that it is not for the same reasons that a majority of the public might feel these things.

You see, now the representatives in government are going to say we need stricter ride regulations, the media will now say the government needs to have stricter ride regulations and of course, my brethren who are personal injury attorneys will tell you that amusement rides are inherently unsafe. 

Related: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment LLC vs. Marineland of Canada Inc. 2011 ONCA 616A theme park may be liable in negligence for allowing head-on collisions on a bumper car

According to the facts, witnesses reported that "the mother decided she was too large to ride the ride houston livestock rodeo show amusement rides texasand left the 3-year-old with her 8-year-old brother, " according to a statement made by Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Leroy Shafer (below left).  Let’s stop right there for a moment.  What’s wrong with this picture?  A 3 year old riding with an 8 year old and mom walks away.  Knowing what I know about the 3 year old in my life, if I did that, my 3 year old is bound to follow me, even if I’m at home.  That’s just the nature and curiosity of a 3 year old.  Now mix in being at an unfamiliar place with strangers on an amusement ride that purposely throws you up in the air and you have a recipe for a problem.    Why didn’t the mom take the 3 year old girl with her?  Have you ever tried to deny a 3 year old something?  She would scream and holler and make a scene.  No parent or grandparent looks forward to that scenario.  But parents, guardians and others responsible for a child need to make hard choices, smart choices, and right choices.

leyroy shafer houston rodeo livestock show amusement rideOnce you start up a Techno Jump it begins in a circle and starts thrusting seats up into the air.  What do you think will happen to a three year old struggling to overcome whatever restraint you put in their way?  They will keep struggling until they are free for a three year old cannot comprehend what harm or consequences result from their actions.  What will happen?  I fully anticipate that the unthinking mother will file a lawsuit against the carnival, the Rodeo and the ride manufacturer for negligence and product liability, without even considering her own fault in the accident.  What happened during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is tragic.  I hope the three year old continues to live a normal life and is not affected by accident for the rest of her life.  But as a society, as a community charged with helping to raise our children, we must become conscientious and help to speak for those too young to know better if their caretakers don’t or won’t.  Let us keep an eye on our children this operating season. 


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