As a child — and even as an adult — there is a certain playfulness and joy that only comes from springing off the elastic surface of a trampoline, soaring through the air and returning to a soft landing to be flung in the air once again. Trampolines are fun, no doubt about it. In rainy Washington, trampoline parks have become increasingly popular as patrons take advantage of a chance to be active indoors. With their rising popularity, however, has also come a rising concern over the safety of these parks. People are getting hurt. Badly. Reports of unenforced rules and dangerous conditions circulate not just through the community, but through the courts as well. One trampoline park in Bellevue in particular has faced numerous lawsuits for horrific injuries.
What Are Your Rights?
Cases against trampoline parks essentially claim premise liability and gross negligence. When you enter a place of business, you are considered to be an invitee. That means the business has the highest duty of care to keep you safe. Trampoline parks must adequately inform their customers of the dangers of the activity. In addition to this, however, they must ensure that all safety features are functioning properly, that all foreseeable dangers are protected against and that all safety rules are enforced.
Every time you step into a trampoline park, they hand you a waiver of liability. It is important to thoroughly read everything stated there. If you are injured in the normal course of events — such as landing wrong — and there is no failure of safety features or precautions, or if you were injured doing something you were expressly warned not to do, you may find it difficult to file a lawsuit. The waiver you sign excuses the park from simple negligence and also establishes an assumption of risk.
Those liability releases have limits, however. Whether or not you sign a waiver, you still have a right to expect that the facility will do its best to prevent injury. That means ensuring that the springs between the trampolines are covered and that those protective covers are secure. It means that all potential collision risks should be well-padded. It means that safety rules, such as only one jumper to a trampoline, are enforced by staff members. It means that dangerous and reckless behavior is not encouraged or condoned. That list is, of course, not exhaustive, but it is representative of some of the most common ways trampoline parks violate the standard of care. When one or more of these violations is present, then you may have a case for gross negligence.
As many injuries at trampoline parks involve minors, a very important part of Washington law comes into play here. The courts have determined that minors cannot sign away their rights. Further, a parent of a child cannot either. That means that if you signed a waiver for your child, or if he or she signed it for him- or herself, that document does not prevent that child from bringing suit against the trampoline park.
Washington State is No Stranger to Trampoline Lawsuits
A trampoline park in Bellevue recently closed due numerous lawsuits claiming gross negligence resulted in debilitating injuries. SkyHigh park had to close its doors due to bankruptcy resulting from payments to their insurance company and associated legal fees. At least nine lawsuits were filed against the facility claiming terrible injuries, including:
- Dislocation and fracturing of the ankle
- Head laceration and skull fracture with retrograde and anteriograde amnesia
- Compound fracture of the tibia and fibula
- Spinal cord injury and partial paralysis
These injuries are not only physically and emotionally traumatic and painful, but they can also cause life-long medical complications. Active children, teenagers and young adults have lost their ability to participate in sports. At least one victim has not been able to work since his injury.
Those injured are claiming just the sort of breach in safety that constitutes gross negligence.
- One mother alleges that her 12-year-old son hit his head on a metal pole that was sticking out of a foam pit. Doing backflips into that foam pit had been encouraged by SkyHigh’s videos.
- A father says that his son landed on the metal frame that ran between two trampoline mats, causing his ankle to fracture. Further, SkyHigh did not provide any basic first aid.
- Yet another victim was standing still on a trampoline when another child jumped onto it, tossing her into the air and causing injuries that required surgical repair.
None of these situations should have occurred if the SkyHigh maintained their safety equipment and provided adequate supervision to prevent dangerous jumping conditions.
Other Legal Issues with Trampolines
Clearly, there are reasonable grounds upon which to bring a lawsuit against a trampoline park. Trampolines, however, can also be found in people’s backyards. If you are an owner of a trampoline, you should know that you are responsible for people’s safety on that equipment. Whether that person is an invitee — meaning you know they are on your property — or a trespasser — meaning you did not invite them and may not even know they are there — if they get hurt, it could be your fault. Trampolines in this way are a lot like swimming pools. In order to protect users from injury and yourself from liability, you have to provide warning and supervision. If there is any safety issue, such as broken springs or tears in netting, you should disclose it to them and do your best to prevent use of the trampoline.
There is yet a third way in which you can seek compensation for trampoline injuries. If the trampoline is defective or dangerously designed, you can take action against the manufacturer. This is a product liability case. The manufacturer has a responsibility to ensure that a product is made correctly in order to maximize safety. They also must include visible warning labels and instructions on how to properly assemble, use and maintain the devices.
Trampoline Injuries Can Be Life-Altering
The type of injuries obtained in trampoline accidents can be awful. They commonly include:
- Broken or shattered bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
These injuries can cause permanent disability, paralysis and even death.
The physical, emotional and financial burden from a trampoline injury can be great. If you were injured on a trampoline because of a facility’s or individual’s negligence, or because of a defective product, please contact us immediately. You may be eligible for compensation to help you alleviate your suffering. We provide a free, no-obligation and completely confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.