Circuses can be places of interesting performances and daring feats by very talented individuals. Like any other place of work and perhaps even more so, though, circuses can be subject to accidents and injuries, sometimes quite serious. A recent circus accident in Rhode Island illustrates this pretty well.
The incident involved an act in which eight women were hung 30 to 40 feet in the air by their hair into a chandelier formation. The device which held the women in place was itself secured by a carabiner, which ended up failing and dropping the women to the ground shortly after they were unveiled. The accident ended up injuring a total of 9 individuals. Two performers were in critical condition and three in serious condition. The catastrophe is now being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Sources say that criminal activity is not suspected in connection with the incident. Circus performers who are employees would presumably be able to collect workers’ compensation payments for any injuries, but this isn’t addressed in news sources. State law has it that the benefit program normally bars an employee from filing a tort action against an employer, except in situations where the injury to the worker was intentional.
In cases involving an intentional harm, an employee is able to sue his or her employer for damages. The grand majority of situations where employees are hurt, of course, are not due to intentional torts by the employer, but rather negligence.
When an employee pursues a claim for financial benefits, it is important for him or her to understand his or her rights. Those in such a situation should contact an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation matters.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Investigators looking at carabiner in circus accident that injured 9,” Michael Muskal, May 5, 2015.