Worker’s Fatal Fall Shows Amusement Piers Can Be Dangerous Places


When we go to amusement parks to enjoy the thrills of roller coasters and other rides, we count on the park to be safe for ourselves and our families and friends. Unfortunately, the pleasant diversions that amusement parks offer can make it easy to overlook the dangers that lie in wait, both for visitors and for people who work there.

In May 2022, a contractor was fatally injured at the Wonderland Pier on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ while preparing rides for the season’s opening day. Robert Sanger was on top of a mechanical lift that he had used to work on the Ferris wheel when the concrete platform under the lift suddenly collapsed, causing the lift to tip over and Sanger to fall to the ground. He later died of his injuries.

This tragic incident highlights the potential dangers that amusement park workers and guests may face due to poor maintenance, mechanical failure or other causes. Park employees likely are able to recover workers’ compensation, as are employees of independent vendors. Sanger worked for a commercial construction company.

However, when a guest or other non-employee is injured or killed at an amusement park, they or their family members may need to sue to obtain financial compensation. The law may allow recovery of damages from owners and operators of amusement parks who are at fault for any of the following:

  • Failing to maintain the grounds, rides and equipment in a safe condition
  • Failing to inspect rides and equipment for safety issues on a regular basis
  • Failing to post signs to warn people of dangers
  • Giving guests inadequate safety instructions
  • Operating rides in a careless manner
  • Failing to train and supervise their employees

If an accident was caused by poorly designed or constructed machinery or equipment, an injured person might also have grounds to sue the manufacturer or supplier.

If you or a family member suffered a serious injury at an amusement park, proving liability will require representation from a recreational accidents attorney. Your attorney can demand that the defendants turn over their inspection and maintenance records, training and operational manuals and records of past accidents and safety problems. Your attorney can also take depositions of key witnesses and can retain expert witnesses to help prove the defendants’ fault.

The defendant amusement park owner or operator might allege that you failed to follow the park’s safety warnings or ride instructions or that you acted negligently in some other way. Even if you were partially negligent, however, you may still obtain a portion of your damages, as long as the jury finds that the defendants were more negligent than you.

Seigel Law in Ridgewood is a premier personal injury law firm, serving clients throughout Northern New Jersey, including Bergen, Passaic, Essex and Hudson counties. If you or someone in your family was hurt at an amusement park, call us at 201-444-4000 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.

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