Over the past few months, safety concerns about indoor trampoline parks and bounce houses, such as Sky Zone, Mighty Jump and Cosmic Jump (coming soon to Atlanta) have increased as the number of parks nationwide have increased. These parks are a natural draw for kids and birthday parties, and even adult parties. Unfortunately,
reports of injuries are on the rise - especially head and neck injuries - and I've seen evidence of the same trend in my calls and cases. Currently, this fast-growing industry is not regulated in Georgia and most other states but the push for regulation is beginning.
Are these places fun? Oh yes. Do my kids beg to go? Heck yes! Do I let them attend birthday parties at trampoline parks? Mostly, yes, although I (obviously) have reservations. So I don't want to demonize these places because 1) to quote Dr. Seuss, it's fun to have fun; and 2) many in the industry actually have developed voluntary guidelines to keep patrons as safe as possible. But this is an inherently risky activity. These places cater to children as well as adults, and these indoor trampoline companies have a duty to be vigilant with safety.
The good news is that the companies want to avoid lawsuits and promote as much risk management as possible within the industry. Several CEOs and COO's have joined with the International Association of Trampoline Parks to create IATP standards guiding the design, installation and management/operation of these indoor parks.
The bad news is that doctors are becoming concerned about the the types of injuries they're starting to see out fo the trampoline and jump parks. The
American Academy of Pediatrics advises against recreational trampoline use, citing potentially catastrophic injuries in children. In 2006, the AAP strongly advised against the use or purchase of any
home trampolines; it's now extended this warning to trampoline parks.
More bad news is that the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises limited use of trampolines due to the frequency of broken bones and other injuries.
Leg, arm and elbow fractures are common. Severe injuries are more rare but include paralysis and death.
Both the AAOS and the AAP recommend that children 6 and younger be prohibited from any trampoline use at all.
When you and your child visit an indoor trampoline park or bounce park, you'll have to read and sign the waiver and release the company from claims of simple negligence. Those releases sound very broad and sweeping for a reason: to be a deterrent from pursuing a claim even though patrons aren't waiving their right to claims of gross negligence. Companies which provide risky activities have an assumption of the risk defense (easily overcome by injuries in younger children but more difficult to do with teenagers and adults). There are times where claims and litigation would be appropriate: where there may exist gross negligence of the trampoline park employees in maintaining the equipment , improper supervision, or failing to take safety precautions per company policy.
As a parent, you can help your child be safe at places like Sky Zone and other jump parks: look for employees (court monitors) to be posted around the facility. Look for any exposed springs and other metal equipment which should be covered. Double jumping should be prohibited. Different ages and sizes shouldn't be grouped together while bouncing or jumping. If something looks unsafe or doesn't look right to you as a parent, or other patrons are breaking rules, speak up and get an employee to address it.
One of the big turnoffs about personal injury and accident attorneys is that our profession takes the fun out of life and makes everyone a Nervous Nellie. What many people don't realize is that the law intrinsically takes care of that issue with an exception to dangerous or risky activities in which adults may choose to engage: assumption of the risk. However, when a business is based on a risky activity involving children (whom are not expected to make good decisions regarding risk of injury or death), the equation changes.