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Pennsylvania Officials May Need to Do a Better Job of Inspecting Rides at Amusement Parks

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2016 | Blog

Several recent amusement park accidents across the country, including a serious accident in Pittsburgh PA, have led to calls for closer scrutiny of amusement park rides by Pennsylvania safety inspectors.

In the past few weeks, three children sustained significant physical injuries after falling from a Ferris wheel at a Tennessee carnival and a 10-year-old boy was decapitated while riding on a waterslide at a Kansas waterpark. Now Pennsylvania residents are expressing concern after a boy was seriously injured while riding on a roller coaster at a Pittsburgh amusement park.

The Pittsburgh amusement park accident occurred at Ligonier’s Idlewild and SoakZone. Although details about the circumstances leading up to the accident are scant, it is believed by officials that the victim may have fallen from the rollercoaster while it was still in motion.

After the accident, the boy was briefly treated at the scene and then flown by helicopter to a hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.

Meanwhile, state safety officials are investigating the accident and trying to determine exactly what might have caused the boy to fall from the rollercoaster. At this point, authorities are unsure about whether the victim’s injuries may have been caused by some sort of mechanical failure on the ride or a negligent act by the ride operators.

Under Pennsylvania state law, amusement park operators and waterpark operators must arrange for inspections of their rides at least once every 30 days. Moreover, these inspections must be performed by inspectors who have been certified by the state. The law is less stringent with respect to carnivals and fairs, with carnival operators merely needing to schedule ride inspections each time the ride is actually set up.

One major issue that a lot of observers have when it comes to amusement park safety inspections is that there might not be enough random checks performed by PA inspectors. This means that negligent or even reckless amusement park operators potentially have an opportunity to plan ahead for inspections and avoid being forced to make necessary safety adjustments on dangerous rides.

Another problem highlighted by observers is the fact that a lot of amusement park operators fail to schedule regular inspections of rides. For instance, a 2013 report published by PublicSource found that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which oversees the PA amusement park regulatory office, did not have up-to-date inspection reports for at least 50 percent of all Pennsylvania amusement parks and waterparks.

The lack of adequate safety inspections of amusement park rides in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the US is alarming – especially since thousands of children are injured every year at amusement parks.

For additional information, read the New Pittsburgh Courier article, “How to Check Safety Records for Ridges in Pennsylvania Amusement Parks.”


If you were injured at an amusement park in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you need to talk to a qualified personal injury lawyer immediately. The experienced PA and NJ personal injury attorneys at Garber Law will help you get the compensation you need, want, and deserve. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation.