Injured acrobats may have permanent disability

The May 4 circus accident that sent eight acrobats crashing to the ground during the “human chandelier” stunt may be heading to the courts soon. All eight of the performers have retained legal counsel, with seven of them being represented by one firm, according to a June 14 announcement. The suit has not been filed yet, and it remains unclear who the suit would be targeted at if it goes to court, but the law firm said it was conducting an investigation to determine who may have been at fault for the accident.

The stunt was part of a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance and involved the eight performers being suspended from an aerial apparatus by their hair. Initial investigations by police indicated that the fall may have been caused by a steel carabiner clip which appeared to have snapped. The investigation is now in the hands of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and no further determinations have been made.

Many of the acrobats were seriously injured, including two who apparently suffered spinal cord injuries. The women have required surgeries and may be facing more. Doctors are not sure what the recoveries of the performers will look like, or how long it will take, and fear two may not ever walk again. According to reports, some of the women are facing long-term physical therapy and having to use wheelchairs.

A major injury to the spinal cord can mean long-term rehabilitation and the possibility of ongoing medical treatment and surgeries and a dependence on medical equipment. When an injury is caused by the negligence or fault of another party in Florida, the victims may be able to file suit in the civil courts, seeking compensation that may help with medical bills and loss of earning potential.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Injured hair-hanging circus acrobats hire law firm“, June 16, 2014