Two recent deaths in the region caught the attention of local lawmakers and resulted in North Carolina passing a new law to regulate the use of ziplines.
H.B. 39 increases the civil and criminal penalties for violations pertaining to certain aerial amusement devices. This includes ropes, pendulum swings, and the increasingly popular ziplines. It was after the deaths of two young girls that people began to realize these common summer activities are not in fact well regulated by law, leaving families with little to no legal recourse after the fact.
In Pickens County, South Carolina, a 16-year old girl fell to her death from a pendulum swing while attending a Brevard Christian Camp. Earlier in June, a 12-year old girl died after falling from a zipline at a YMCA Camp in Alleghany County, North Carolina. The state Department of Labor found the pendulum swing in the first case did not meet the definition of amusement rides in the state and thus had not been inspected by the Office of Elevators and Amusement Rides prior to use. The same was said of the zipline at the other camp. Because these devices did not fall under any definition of existing law, they were not subject to safety standards or inspection requirements. As such, the families were limited in their options when they tried to seek legal redress in wrongful death or personal injury cases after the fact.
North Carolina House Bill 39 was introduced to address this legal blind spot. It increases the civil fines an operator of an amusement device must pay if their devices (i.e. ziplines, etc) are not properly inspected and up-to-code. It also makes it a Class E felony to operate such a device without proper inspection. It also directs the state Department of Labor to study zip-line operations throughout the state to determine:
- What are the dangers?
- How many are in operation?
- What type of liability insurance coverage is needed?
- What protections exist for operators and participants?
- What are the costs?
- What are existing federal standards that may apply?
The law unanimously passed the North Carolina House and Senate and was signed by the Governor this month.
Summer is a time for fun, family, and sunshine. There are, however, numerous dangers that exist in many of the activities we all try to enjoy. If you or a loved one has been hurt on such an amusement ride or by the fault or negligence of another, you may be entitled to recover for your injuries. Please contact the attorneys at Wallace Childers PLLC if you need assistance.