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What can begin as a child’s dream can quickly turn into a nightmare when defective rides at state fairs and amusement parks malfunction. Recently, a high-profile case at the Ohio State Fair brought to light the dangers of carnival rides, many of which appear perfectly safe.

An 18-year-old, Tyler Jarrell, was killed in 2017 while riding the Fire Ball ride after a gondola broke loose from the structure and hit the ground below. The Fire Ball state fair accident alarmed consumer safety advocates and product liability attorneys. But little has changed since the families of Tyler and others that were injured filed personal injury state fair lawsuit.

In 2016, there were an estimated 30,000 serious injuries associated with amusement attractions, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fatalities are less common, but since 2010 there have been 22 fatalities associated with amusement attractions and amusement park accidents. In 2020 and beyond, experts think injuries may increase due to the number of park visitors and more relaxed ride regulations.

Like any property owner, amusement parks, fairgrounds and waterparks are legally bound to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition. If a person suffers an injury that could have been prevented, the injured victim may be able to file a successful claim against the amusement park and receive compensation. Dangerous rides may include:

  • Alpine slides
  • Rollercoasters
  • Water slides

Depending on what directly caused the injury, legal accountability may rest with amusement park ownership, the designer or manufacturer of a park ride, or a negligent ride operator.

Following an amusement ride accident, victims should contact an experienced lawyer to investigate.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated premises liability attorney and experienced amusement park lawyer, well-versed in the science and economic impact of recreational injuries and amusement park lawsuits.

Amusement Park Accidents

Amusement Park Safety Hazards

At the time of reporting, Ohio had only eight full-time inspectors overseeing a total of 3,800 rides, according to an investigation by the Dayton Daily News.

Ohio ride inspectors are responsible for monitoring ride safety at over 50 go-kart tracks, more than 360 fairs and festivals, and 149 other companies, including Cedar Point and Kings Island, two of the country’s largest amusement parks. The inspectors are also tasked with overseeing water parks and inflatable bouncy houses.

Current regulations do not require the state to hire professional and qualified engineers to hold the inspecting positions. Prior news reports noted that the Fire Ball ride was cleared by safety officials prior to the malfunction and accident that resulted in death and injuries.

All rides at the Ohio state fair were then closed and the ride’s manufacturer, KMG, ended all Fire Ball rides worldwide. The company found excessive corrosion caused a metal arm to break, leading to the ride accident and the state fair lawsuits.

Legal personal injury settlements with ride inspectors and Amusements of America were reached with the families of two of the injury victims. Jarrett’s family agreed to a $1.27 million settlement, according to a report from the Columbus Dispatch. A young woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident settled a state fair lawsuit for $1.8 million.

Theme Park Negligence

A 2013 study by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital concluded that from 1990 to 2010 an annual average of more than 4,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for amusement park accidents and ride-related injuries. Inflatable amusements in the years 2003 to 2013 caused an estimated 113,000 emergency department treated injuries.

Common amusement park accidents involve slip-and-fall accidents, unsafe or poorly maintained water rides, untrained or unsupervised ride operators, or machine malfunctions. Other factors that may cause injury include:

  • Operator negligence.
  • Mechanical failure.
  • Inadequate security.
  • Failure to post proper warnings.
  • Corrosion and weather damage.
  • Faulty straps or harnesses and safety lock failure.
  • Inadequate padding or head protection.
  • Sharp and protruding parts.
  • Malfunctioning lap bars.
  • Improper welds and Structural flaws.
  • Design defects and Improper installation.
  • Electrical failures.
  • Failure to properly train ride operators.
  • Ride inspection failure.

Defective Ride Accidents

  • In July, 2017, an Ohio fairground ride collapsed, killed one person and injured seven others. The manufacturer of the malfunctioning ride at the Ohio State Fair said the deadly incident was caused by “excessive corrosion.”
  • In August, 2016, a fatal injury killed a 10-year-old boy who rode a water slide in Kansas.
  •  In July, 2005, a Maryland girl fell from a ferris wheel after a cable came loose.
  • Another amusement park accident in Ohio occurred due to the negligence of a ferris wheel operator who had consumed alcohol.

Dangerous Park Attractions

Employees at animal parks are also at risk of injury. A trainer at SeaWorld Orlando drowned when an orca whale grabbed her and dragged her under the water. Other theme parks targeted in liability lawsuits include:

  • Kings Island
  • Six Flags Over Texas
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain
  • Oakwood Theme Park
  • Six Flags Over Texas
  • Schlitterbahn
  • Ohio State Fair
  • Action Park
  • Dreamworld
  • Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
  • Galaxyland
  • Six Flags Great Adventure Park

Amusement Park Lawyer

When amusement ride accidents lead to injuries, victims may file claims against the management for gross negligence and also ride manufacturers in product liability claims.

If an amusement park injury was caused by the carelessness of the park management or an employee of the park, the lawsuit will most likely account for negligence.

Some amusement park injuries occur due to defective rides. Others target defective ride components. Faulty safety components and defects may lead to product liability lawsuits against the manufacturer of the ride or the maker of the safety component.

Plaintiffs and their Ohio amusement park lawyer must prove that the structure or equipment was defective, and that the defect caused injury.


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Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.


The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

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A Voice for Those who have suffered

Why are these cases important?

Serious injuries and accidents often result through no fault of the injured party, yet the injured victim suffers from life altering physical, mental and financial losses. Such economic and human losses can have devastating financial consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through personal injury lawsuits.


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Questions about Personal Injury Cases

What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Any kind of negligence by an individual or company that causes injury or harm can lead to filing a personal injury lawsuit. The amount a plaintiff is entitled to depends on several factors, particularly how egregious the act and how serious the injury.

Personal injury attorneys generally only will take cases on a confidential and contingency fee basis, which means your lawyer will only get paid if he or she is able to reach a settlement or positive verdict. The Lyon Firm will review your case for free and assess what compensation any plaintiff can expect through litigation.

Personal Injury cases can range from minor auto accidents to complex lawsuits filed against large corporations. The Lyon Firm has handled both with equal care. Severe injury requires legal action on occasion, no matter if the injury is the result of a vehicle accident, a dog bite, a boating accident, workplace injury, defective consumer products, medical malpractice, or toxic exposure.

What is the Process?

Pre-Suit Investigation and Negotiations: Personal injury lawsuits are unique and require a thorough investigation before a lawsuit is filed. An initial investigation involves gathering all relevant medical records, accident reports, and interviews with available witnesses.  Preservation letters are drafted to notify the defendant of the case. The duty to preserve electronic evidence is critical in most cases to prevent spoliation.

Filing a Lawsuit in Cincinnati: If pre-suit negotiations are unsuccessful, then a lawsuit must be filed to preserve the statute of limitations.  Filing a lawsuit early in the process is often necessary to begin gathering evidence while the witnesses memories are fresh and documents remain available.

Once suit is filed by your personal injury lawyer, the court will set a case management schedule and the parties will begin exchanging information in the formal process of discovery. Depositions will be taken to preserve testimony for trial and to understand what certain witnesses are likely to say at trial.

Proving Negligence, Causation and Damages: In addition to lay witness testimony and other documentary evidence, personal injury claims rely upon medical and scientific evidence to prove negligence, causation and damages. The chosen expert in a case must have a reliable and sound basis in science and in the facts of the case or his opinion may not be admissible under the rules of evidence.

In the areas of Toxic and Environmental Torts, the admission of expert testimony may be scrutinized harder than in other areas simply because the subject may not have been as widely tested and may rest on novel scientific theories.

Are there any limits to what I can recover?

Each state will vary. Under Ohio law, an injured party may recover damages related to medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, loss of enjoyment of life, past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, and punitive damages. The numerical limits are as such:

  1. Non-Catastrophic Injury:   The non-economic award is limited to $250,000 per plaintiff, or three times the economic loss, up to $350,000 per plaintiff. A maximum of $500,000 for each “occurrence.”
  2. Catastrophic Injury: No limits.

The Lyon Firm may be able to file injury claims and recover rightful compensation for clients for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings and long-term disability.

Why should I hire The Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers.  The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

Experience:  Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters.   Personal Injury lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury.  Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.

Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.

Results:  Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results in personal injury,  automotive product liability, medical Negligence, construction accidents, and auto dealership negligence casesThe cases have involved successfully litigating against some of  the largest companies in the world.

Our Victories

The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against negligent individuals or companies to obtain just compensation under the law. 



(Brown County, Kentucky):   The Lyon Firm was second chair a case involving a driver texting and driving when he crossed the median, killing a father of four. The case was resolved once discovery confirmed the cell phone records proved the texting-related incident. The settlement will pay for the surviving childrens’ education. The driver was likely facing additional criminal charges at the time of the settlement.



(Cincinnati, Ohio):  The Lyon Firm was lead counsel in a $495,000 settlement. This case involved a motorcycle operator who sustained fractures of the calcaneus, talus, medial cuneiform, tarsal bones, and tarsometatarsal when a car ignored its driving lane and crossed into his right-of-way. Settlement provided repayment of medical bills of $20,000 and funds for future education to re-enter the work force in a less physically-demanding job.