Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I wait a few months to pursue a personal injury claim?”
Many still remember the terrible accident at the North Carolina State Fair in 2013 that left several people hospitalized for weeks. However, the Wake County District Attorney’s Office determined that the ride’s malfunction was no accident at all. The ride, known as the “Vortex”, malfunctioned and severely injured several individuals at the NC State Fair two years ago. The State determined that the owner of the ride, with the help of his employee, had bypassed certain safety mechanisms on the ride, allowing the ride to operate without the safety bars in place. Because of their actions, the State determined that the parties should be held criminally liable.
Prior to the fair, inspectors told Josh Macaroni, the owner of the ride, that there were problems with the electrical wiring of the Vortex during a routine inspection. Macaroni was told to fix the issue. Instead of doing so, Macaroni (according to a witness) instructed his employee to stand behind him to block the electrical box from public view while he installed wiring that bypassed the safety mechanism on the ride. He did so to allow people to get off and on the ride quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, the ride started while some passengers were still unsecured, and it dropped these passengers nearly 20 feet. Three people were seriously injured and remained in the hospital for weeks.
Macaroni and his employee, Timothy Tutterrow, were charged with three counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury. Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury is a Class E felony in North Carolina. The minimum punishment for such a crime is 15 months, and each charge carries this time. In short, both individuals faced stiff charges for their actions—three counts of a felony that carries a minimum punishment time of 15 months. Tutterrow eventually pled guilty to three counts of Assault With a Deadly Weapon and agreed to testify against Macaroni. The Macaroni case has not yet concluded.
Additionally, four of the injured individuals filed a civil suit seeking nearly $150 million dollars in damages. The action was likely a negligence suit in which the injured individuals would have claimed that the two men failed to uphold their duty to keep their passengers safe, and that their breach of duty caused the serious injuries. The suit was filed against Tutterrow, Macaroni and Family Attractions Amusement, LLC. The lawsuit was later settled for an undisclosed amount.
So, as the fair begins this year in Raleigh, fairgoers can rest assured of two things: 1) that ride operators and owners understand that they can be held criminally and civilly liable for unsafe rides and 2) that the state of North Carolina will be monitoring these rides to make sure they meet certain safety standards. Inspectors from the NC Department of Labor will be maintaining a presence at the fair during the entire 10 days that it is in Raleigh. They will be keeping a close eye on the rides and operators to make sure that this year’s fairgoers are kept safe.
If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
By Gphoto (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
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