National trend: trampoline park injuries

Perhaps we should file this story under “inevitable” but trampoline parks are coming under fire across the country. Trampoline park lawsuits are beginning to pop up, claiming that the facilities are inherently dangerous and lacking in supervision. The cases generally seek to recover for spinal cord injuries or broken bones.

Trampoline parks are increasingly popular venues in which guests jump on a series of large trampolines. The trampolines are arranged adjacent to one another to create a continuous field. Cushions and foam-filled pits surround the trampolines to provide a soft landing area.

But despite the foam pits and other safety precautions, guests inevitably get hurt. The parks can become chaotic with multiple jumpers moving simultaneously and mid-air collisions are often dangerous. One Washington plaintiff suffered a severe spinal cord injury that destroyed his fine motor skills. CNN reports that hospital emergency rooms treated over 90,000 trampoline-related injuries in 2010 but that figure does not distinguish between parks and home trampolines.

Like many recreational activities, park operators require guests to sign liability waivers before jumping. A large number of injured guests probably think no further than the waiver when considering whether to seek compensation. But there are circumstances under which a court will ignore liability waivers. For example, a court might decide that waivers are unenforceable if signed by a child.

Waiver questions generally present matters of state law. As such, this national trend looks set to help clarify when a dangerous business like a trampoline park can avoid liability by requiring a broad waiver from its guests.

Source: CNN, “Lawsuits ignite debate over trampoline park safety,” Emanuella Grinberg, July 27, 2012