Even as an experienced attorney, I too can get caught up in the headlines from time to time! News outlets do a great job of communicating to the masses with just enough detail to peak our interest, but rarely enough detail to accurately assess the story.
Take for instance the recent Cedar Point tragedy that cost a 31-year-old Northeast Ohio native his life. Based on the media accounts it wasn’t difficult to conclude that this individual clearly lacked common sense – but was that really the case?
Clear and Present Danger
Initially, there was speculation that the rider lost his cell phone and wallet while on the roller coaster and subsequently went to retrieve them from an area beneath the coaster. There the man was struck and killed by a passing coaster. In today’s day and age our lives are entwined with our smart phones so this man’s actions do not seem irrational or unreasonable!
Reportedly, signs around the area beneath the coaster simply stated ‘Keep Out’ or ‘Authorized Personnel Only’. One west coast accident expert shared that this is actually a frequent occurrence because people do not understand that just because the track is above the head does it mean you are safe from harm. The nature of an inverted roller coaster has the actual passenger cars hanging 6-10 feet below the track, which is how a standing individual can be struck while the ride is in progress.
The question is – Should the signs have stated the area posed a danger? If you saw a sign that said keep out, would you think that you could quickly retrieve your belongings, even if it meant breaking the rules? If the warning signs didn’t say ‘Danger of death or injury’ or ‘Coaster clearance 2 feet’ would the expectation of reasonable safety exist?
The Importance of Experts
The accident expert shed some light onto the events that lead up to the tragedy. It seems that this type of accident is not a one-time occurrence, and that park owners were aware of simple fixes that could prevent these tragedies once and for all.
This calls out the importance of expert insights in any case, which is part of why I have been able to successfully represent clients for over 30 years. Knowing who to consult with can be the difference in a winning case, but also in preventing tragedies from ever occurring again.
What the Future Holds
While I too am deriving details from the media, as a legal professional I predict this incident will change the safety procedures at Cedar Point and other parks across the US. Clear, explicit signage and other preventative measures can go a long way in keeping patrons safe.
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