Who is Liable for Trampoline Park Injuries?
Originally designed as controlled training centers for gymnasts, acrobats and military pilots, modern trampoline parks have evolved into wall-to-wall entertainment and exercise for all ages. Though facilities are typically laden with foam padding to help prevent injuries, recent studies warn of a higher percentage of fractures, dislocations and surgical interventions associated with jump parks. Charlotte area EMS responded to nearly 100 traumatic trampoline park injuries in Catawba and Mecklenburg Counties between 2016 and 2018 according to WSCOTV reports which you can view here.
Trampoline parks generally require a signed liability waiver from each participant (or a minor’s parent or guardian), indicating that they accept the risks and agree that the facility is not liable for injuries sustained while participating. These pre-injury releases can successfully waive common jumping-related injuries, such as sprained ankles or strains. But an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether trampoline parks should still be held liable for negligent practices under North Carolina’s premises liability law.
Trampoline Park Safety and Injuries
In addition to offering trampolines and foam pits, commercial jump parks have creatively integrated climbing walls, augmented reality games, and obstacle course elements such as rope ladders and warp walls. While not state or federally regulated, there are industry standards from ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials) to design, install and maintain these features with safety and risk management in mind. Secured foam mats cover trampoline springs, and net enclosures are intended to keep participants from landing outside the designated jump zone.
When injuries do occur at trampoline parks, they often range in severity:
- Ankle sprains or strains from awkward landings
- Knee injuries or serious lower-extremity injuries from “double jumping” (i.e. when two jumpers time landings to increase launch height, which results in additional force applied to a child’s legs upon landing)
- Leg fractures and dislocations from landing on hard surfaces
- Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that kids younger than 6 years old not use trampolines. In most cases, however, customers find it difficult to recover financial compensation from the trampoline park for injuries because they were made aware of these risks and signed a liability waiver. This means that proving negligence is essential if you have signed a waiver release form.
How to Prove a Trampoline Park Was Negligent
In North Carolina, premises liability simply means that a facility owner or operator must take reasonable measures to create a safe environment for patrons (e.g. repairing trampolines, blocking off unsafe areas, or posting attendants and proper usage rules near equipment), or they are liable for damages.
If an owner or operator is to be found negligent, an injured person may be eligible for compensation even after signing a liability waiver as in these real-life examples:
- Equipment was defective or poorly maintained and caused severe injury. A teenager in Texas fell through a rip in an inflatable slide, hitting his head on the concrete floor below. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and was awarded over $11 million.
- Trampoline set-up was unreasonably dangerous. At a Hickory trampoline park, a sixyear-old boy broke both heels after jumping off an unsupervised platform onto a hard surface that was not roped off or indicated as dangerous.
- Lack of proper instruction and design encouraged unsafe use. As part of an obstacle course, a child reached for a hanging ball fixture above the edge of the trampoline which forced him to jump away from its center. He required knee surgery after one leg gave way on the trampoline while the other landed on the hard spring framework.
- A lack of attendants or poorly trained staff failed to properly supervise or enforce rules. Industry standards recommend a safe number of people on equipment and establish rules separating children by size. A four-year-old child, for example, was injured with a broken femur when an older jumper fell on him.
What to Do If You Were Injured
Here are the first steps to ensure the validity of your claim:
- Get the appropriate medical care and call an ambulance if you require transport.
- File a detailed incident report with the facility’s management.
- Request video surveillance of the incident as this material is often destroyed after a certain period of time.
- Contact our personal injury lawyers at Campbell & Associates as soon as possible to assist you in the next steps regardless of whether you signed a liability waiver.
Consult a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or your child was seriously injured at a trampoline park or another type of amusement park, do not let a signed liability waiver prevent you from seeking compensation.
Our premises liability attorneys can take immediate measures to preserve evidence that may otherwise disappear. We will review your signed liability waiver and provide expert counsel in light of your injuries and the facts surrounding your individual case. Call Campbell & Associates Law at (704)-333-0885 for a free consultation today.