The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) cites a United States Consumer Product Safety Commission statistic indicating that, in 2018, there were more than 300,000 trampoline park-related injuries requiring medical treatment. Of those, more than 110,000 required a trip to the emergency room. Trampoline parks are seen by many as a fun way to spend a day, but they should also be seen as a source of potentially severe injuries. Because of the risks entailed in playing on trampolines and in trampoline parks, some people may wonder whether they should go to a trampoline park at all and, if they do, what happens if someone is injured? If you or a loved one has sustained a trampoline park injury in New Hampshire, an experienced personal injury attorney from Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, may be able to help. Consider calling (603) 707-4800 to discuss your legal options.
What Is the Number One Trampoline Injury?
The number one type of trampoline injury is any injury within a group collectively referred to as musculoskeletal injuries, according to Scientific Research Publishing’s International Journal of Clinical Medicine. These are injuries to the muscles, tendons, joints, nerves, cartilage, and spinal discs of the body. These types of injuries can include fractures, dislocations, sprains, and strains.
What Are the Most Common Injuries at Trampoline Parks?
Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has shown that a trampoline-related bone fracture is 32% more likely to have occurred at a trampoline park or facility than on a home trampoline. Additionally, the AAOS determined that the injuries sustained at trampoline parks are usually more severe than those that occur on a family trampoline.
While musculoskeletal injuries are the biggest trampoline park injury group, there are a number of injuries that commonly occur at trampoline parks. According to a study hosted by the National Library of Medicine, the most common trampoline park injuries are as follows:
- Soft tissue sprains
- Sprains and fractures of the arms and legs
- Lacerations that require stitches
- Scrapes and bruises
- Joint dislocations
- Concussions and other head injuries
- Neck fractures and spinal cord injuries
How Do Most Trampoline Injuries Occur?
Of children who are injured at trampoline parks rather than on home trampolines, more than two times as many are likely to suffer musculoskeletal orthopedic problems. Unfortunately, in many cases this higher incidence of complications may be due to inadequate supervision of the jumpers. Many trampoline parks do not employ enough staff to adequately supervise the number of people jumping, and some parents underestimate the dangers of trampoline parks and allow their children to play with minimal supervision.
As many as 75% of trampoline park injuries happen when multiple people are jumping at the same time. In addition to the extra bodies contributing to a trampoline park injury, other common causes of these injuries include:
- Falling on the trampoline frame, mat, or springs
- Attempting flips, somersaults, and other risky stunts that do not go as planned
- Falling onto the ground or another hard surface from the trampoline
Who Is Liable if Your Child Is Injured at a Trampoline Park?
In many cases, trampoline park owners or operators may be liable if someone is injured on their premises. However, in some instances, someone else may be partially or fully liable. The determination of potential liability depends on the circumstances surrounding the injury. If you or your child has sustained a trampoline park injury, a personal injury attorney from Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, may be able to assist you with determining liability and seeking compensation.
Trampoline Park Owner or Operator
The trampoline park owner or operator is responsible for ensuring that their property is secure and in good repair. This can mean ensuring that all equipment is properly maintained, that rules are understood and enforced, and that proper supervision is in place. If an injury occurs due to poorly maintained equipment, for example, the owner or operator may be liable, as this might be considered negligence.
In some cases, the trampoline manufacturer may be liable for someone’s injury. If there is a defective product or a fault in a trampoline that caused the accident or injury, the trampoline manufacturer may be liable.
Other Trampoline Park Customers
Sometimes, another trampoline park customer may be liable for a person’s injury. If another customer is the direct cause of an accident or injury, the injured individual may be able to hold that party responsible. For example, if one child pushes another child off the trampoline and causes injuries, the parents of the injured child may be able to sue the other child’s parents for compensation to cover the costs of the injured child’s medical care.
In some instances, more than one party may be liable for a person’s injuries. A trampoline manufacturer may be responsible because a spring is defective, but the park owner or operator may also be held liable for failing to do routine maintenance that would likely have identified the defective spring. If one child pushes another, but the pushed child falls onto a hard surface from which the park owner has removed padding, the child may then suffer a more severe injury than he or she might have experienced had the padding been left in its proper place.
What if There Is a Signed Liability Waiver?
There are many businesses that require customers to sign waivers to participate in their activities, which can include ax throwing, ziplining, bungee jumping, and more. Trampoline parks also generally ask customers to sign a waiver of liability indicating that they cannot sue if the jumper is injured or even dies. Because trampoline parks seem to be safe in comparison with bungee jumping or skydiving, many people sign these waivers without a second thought. Often, they sign without even reading the waiver.
Unclear or Unenforceable Language
Not all waivers are enforceable, even when signed. In New Hampshire, liability waivers must not be contrary to public policy and must be specific and clear. Trampoline parks are recreation and are therefore generally not considered to be a necessity. In most cases, therefore, these waivers are not considered to be contrary to public policy, as the customer can refuse to sign and walk away.
However, if the wording in the release relating to assumption of risk is written in an unclear or ambiguous way, the waiver may not be enforceable. Even if the signer did not read the waiver first, if the release is unclear, an argument could be made that the signer did not understand the risk involved in the activity.
Waiver Signed on Behalf of a Child
Minors are unable to sign waivers themselves, so parents are typically asked to sign on their behalf. However, per Harrigan v. New England Dragway, Inc., in which a child was injured at a motocross track, and Perry v. Crotched Mountain, in which a child was injured in a chair lift accident at a ski resort, New Hampshire law does not allow parents to waive their children’s legal rights without court approval. In other words, a parent signing a waiver on behalf of their child may not be enforceable because the parent does not have the legal authority to waive the child’s right to sue if the child is injured.
Have Your or Your Child Sustained a Trampoline Park Injury?
Trampoline parks sound like a fun way to spend a few hours. However, the dangers are quite real, and the injuries can be expensive and potentially life changing. If you or your child has sustained a trampoline park injury, you may be able to seek compensation. Consider contacting a New Hampshire personal injury attorney with Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, by calling (603) 707-4800 to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal options.