By Tanya Phillips

Summer brings warm weather, vacations, and a possible visit to an amusement park, water park, or traveling carnival. Unfortunately, a fun day out can turn tragic when maintenance and safety regulations are not followed. No one purchases a ticket to an amusement park with the intention of being involved in an accident which results in injuries. However, accidents can happen at some of the happiest places on earth. In December 2011, the National Safety Council published a report titled, “Fixed-Site Amusement Ride Injury Survey, 2010 Update.” The report noted that for the year 2010, 386 amusement facilities reported a total of 1,299 ride related injuries. As an amusement park guest, you must be aware that certain rules and regulations apply which could limit your ability to seek just compensation for your losses if you fail to act expeditiously.

Amusement park rides within the State of New Jersey are governed by the Carnival Amusement Rides Safety Act (CARSA), N.J.S.A. 5:3-31, et seq. (1975). The Act requires the owners/operators of amusement rides to abide by a strict set of rules regarding the maintenance, safety, and operation of the rides. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs is charged with the duty to ensure the rules are properly followed by the amusement operators. The law requires the operators to save and make available up-to-date maintenance and inspection records, clearly post warnings and instructions as to the operation of the rides, and promptly report any accidents or injuries. Park guests are required to follow all warnings and directions, refrain from reckless behavior, and not board a ride if under the influence of drugs or alcoholic beverages.

However, accidents can occur and it is important that a guest at an amusement park is aware of their rights and responsibilities. The Carnival Safety Act requires all claims of injury to be reported to the ride operator. This notice requires a written statement to be sent to the operator within 90 days of the incident. The notice must be detailed and contain all facts specific to the accident and resulting injuries. Failure to provide the proper notice within a timely manner could greatly jeopardize any future claims. Such claims may also require the guest to hire experts with knowledge of amusement park ride operation and safety to provided reports and testimony as to what went wrong thereby causing the ride to malfunction.

For the vast majority of guests, a day at an amusement park is one filled with fun, excitement, and fond memories. But, on the rare occasion when an unexpected tragedy occurs, an injured guest must be aware of their responsibility to timely report the accident. Failure to do so could end the claim before it begins.

If you have any questions concerning the Carnival Amusement Rides Safety Act (CARSA) or any general questions as to amusement park safety/injuries, please contact the attorneys of Gaylord Popp, LLC. We look forward to discussing any questions or concerns either you or your family may have when confronted such issues.

If you have any questions about legal concerns, I encourage you to visit our website at, or email me directly at or call 609-362-6193.