Are State Fairs More Dangerous than Amusement Parks?


  • The Re-Mix ride broke at the Ohio State Fair in 2002, causing minor injuries to two people.
  • Human error caused a 2016 ride malfunction at the Delta Fair in Tennessee and eight people were hospitalized.
  • In 2013, a ride at the North Carolina state fair sent several people to the hospital when it started moving as people were exiting.


Attending state and local fairs is something that many people have memories of. Carnival food, games with giant prizes, and rides that flip and turn are memories that are held near and dear to people’s hearts. Sadly, while many days under the hot sun end in nothing more than a bit of exhaustion, some of those days are cut short by tragedy.

As Miami accident lawyers, we speak to victims of accidents every day. The emotional trauma after a catastrophic accident like one caused by a malfunctioning state fair ride can be more severe for some than the trauma experienced after a car accident.

Why? Because car accidents are common. Amusement ride accidents aren’t something that we think about until one occurs. Even then, it seems like a one off. But just how safe are you at the local fair? Let’s take a closer look.

One of the most devastating accidents to make public news occurred at the Ohio State Fair in 2017. A man, Tyrell Jarrell, lost his life when a car broke off of a spinning ride, slammed into another car, and then struck the ground. After an extensive investigation, it was determined that the arm of the ride was corroded and that the corrosion directly led to the tragedy.

The accident led to many questions, and some answers weren’t cut and dry. One of the main questions: Was the Ohio accident an unusual occurrence, or are fair rides unsafe?


Where Do Mobile Fair Rides Originate?

Amusements of America is the largest ride owner in the country. Their history dates back to 1939, when they purchased a Ferris Wheel from the World’s Fair in New York. Since that time, the company has bought up hundreds of rides, petting zoos and carnival games.

They also own food stands. The rides they own travel from fair to fair, and the company continues to source rides, some of which are manufactured outside the country.

While companies such as Amusements of America don’t manufacture the rides, they are tasked with the job of putting them together in accordance with safety protocols. Because of this, the company has been named in the lawsuit filed by Jerrell’s family.

Does Mobility Enhance Risk?

Rides at state fairs and carnivals are taken apart when the fair is over, transported to the next location, and then put back together. People mistakenly believe that this makes them inherently less safe than rides at permanent amusement parks.

The experts say that is not the case. Safety standards are the same no matter where the ride is set up, and they are the same for mobile rides and permanent ones.

Some argue that the necessity to disassemble and reassemble rides means that they are inspected in greater detail. That, then, leads to the question of how improper maintenance or poor component conditions slipped under the radar in Ohio and on other rides.

Inspections Vary

One of the issues in amusement rides is that requirements for inspections vary across state lines. In Ohio, for example, the Department of Agriculture inspects ride. There are five inspectors who work across the state inspecting rides. This is in stark contrast to Ohio’s neighbor, Pennsylvania, where 2,000 licensed inspectors are tasked with the job.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is generally responsible for inspecting rides in our state.

How Safe Are You?

According to statistics, you have a 1 in 16 million chance of being injured on a fixed-site ride. That said, it is difficult to determine the odds for your chances of being hurt on an amusement attraction. That may because an “attraction” can be anything from a ride to a ball pit to a hayride. All of these things are lumped into the same category.

What is known is that more people are hurt on these attractions due to their own behaviors than to a malfunction. In fact, two of the most recent deaths on record were because guests hopped fences to retrieve hats they had lost.

At the end of the day, whether or not you ride one of these mobile thrills is up to you. There aren’t numbers that will tell you how safe they are, but experts say that rides are machines, and it shouldn’t be surprising when they eventually fail.

Speak to a Miami Accident Lawyer Today

If you are hurt on an amusement ride or in any type of accident, you need a Miami injury attorney. Reach out to our office today to schedule a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and more. Call today to set up your consultation and learn how we can assist you.

About The Author

Michael Steinger

Michael Steinger

The Florida BarFlorida Bar Young Lawyers DivisionMillion Dollar Advocates ForumMillion Dollar Advocates ForumBest Workers Compensation Attorneys in MiamiBest Car Accident Lawyers in MiamiLawyers of distinction

MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.