Since 2010 indoor trampoline parks have exploded in popularity. This includes not just dedicated trampoline parks, but also trampoline parks that are one of many features at amusement parks, arcades, and family fun centers.
Unfortunately, the growing popularity of trampoline parks has led to an increase in trampoline park injuries. In fact, between 2010 and 2014 the number of trampoline park injuries increased by a factor of 12.
While injuries at trampoline parks share some characteristics with other types of premises liability injuries, trampoline park injuries present unique and complex issues that set them apart from other types of premises injury cases. Because trampoline park injuries are complex, you need an experienced Ohio personal injury lawyer who can navigate this complex area of the law to secure the compensation you and your family need and deserve if a loved one suffered from a trampoline park injury.
Size and Scope of Trampoline Parks Increases Risk of Injury
The size and scope of indoor trampoline parks makes them significantly more dangerous than a backyard trampoline. The trampolines themselves are larger than a backyard trampoline, which means users can attempt higher and more dangerous jumps, increasing the risk of severe injury. Additionally, the average trampoline park is between 25,000 and 40,000 square feet, which means lots of surface area for staff to supervise. And a common feature of a trampoline parks are large surfaces on which visitors can run or race - some as long as 125 feet.
Trampoline parks often allow - and even encourage - guests to play other sports, such as dodgeball or basketball, on and around the trampolines. These games place new and foreign stresses on the body which can lead to severe injury.
Trampoline parks often include trampolines set at a 45 degree angle and allow guests to launch themselves into the air. This design creates sideways forces that can cause fractured bones in younger, inexperienced participants.
Other common features of trampoline parks include ball pits, foam pits, and slides, each of which create new and different hazards when combined with trampolines.
Despite this convergence of risk factors, trampoline parks are loosely regulated and are often subject to amusement park laws and regulations that do not account for unique hazards posed by trampoline parks.
Trampoline Parks Are Loosely Regulated
The trampoline park industry has formed various trade organizations which have created a list of “best practices” that trampoline parks should follow. Unfortunately, adherence to these standards is not mandatory, and Ohio does not have operating standards that apply specifically to trampoline parks. Instead, trampoline parks are governed by amusement park standards which do not account for the unique hazards posed by trampoline parks.
Common Trampoline Park Injuries
Because trampoline parks expose guests to new and different forces on their bodies, trampoline park injuries are not uncommon. Injuries range from minor scrapes and bruises to broken bones, concussions, paralysis, and even death.
The increasing popularity of trampoline parks has led to a 10-fold increase in emergency room visits for trampoline-related injuries, the majority occurring in children under the age of 15.
Trampoline park injuries may be caused by:
- collisions with other guests
- hitting the head on a hard surface
- jumping into shallow ball pits or foam pits
- sliding under the protective padding around the trampoline surface
- landing in an awkward position
- double bouncing
- bouncing at unusual angles creating unusual lateral forces on the body
If someone you love suffered a trampoline park injury, an important question is whether the injuries were caused by a physical feature in the trampoline park, or whether trampoline park staff was negligent in supervising the guests at the park. Trampoline parks employ “jump guards” who are supposed to supervise trampoline park guests, but these are often high school and college students who receive little training.
Who to Sue for a Trampoline Park Injury
Determining who to sue for a trampoline park injury is another complicated aspect of seeking recovery for a trampoline park injury.
Many trampoline parks are owned and operated by a complex network of corporate entities and subsidiaries intended to shield the parent corporation from liability and make it difficult to identify the correct defendant.
An experienced trampoline park injury lawyer understands how to navigate this corporate shell game, identify the correct corporate entities, and hold them accountable.
When investigating an Ohio trampoline park injury, your trampoline park injury lawyer will want to obtain security video footage. This video is often destroyed in the ordinary course of business, so it’s important that you hire a lawyer as quickly as possible after the trampoline park injury so your lawyer can notify the trampoline park of the need to preserve any potential evidence.
Video footage can be incredibly important to the success of your trampoline park injury case as it can show definitively whether park employees were following appropriate protocols and adhering to proper safety standards in supervising trampoline park guests.
Overcoming the Waiver and Release of Liability in a Trampoline Injury Case
Trampoline parks almost always require that guests sign a release and waiver of liability before using the trampoline park facilities.
Even if you signed a release, it might not prevent your claim from moving forward. Depending on the specific language of the release and waiver, it might preclude only certain claims, thereby allowing others to proceed.
Moreover, under Ohio law a participant can only waive their rights as to foreseeable injuries. This means that you can still sue for unforeseeable injuries, such as if someone is negligent and causes you harm, or if trampoline park employees engaged in conduct that was willful, wanton, or reckless.
Likewise, if there are any defects present at the trampoline park, such as a failure to comply with manufacturer specifications or improper training of trampoline staff, those factors might make the injuries unforeseeable and, therefore, not covered by the release and liability waiver.
If a minor was injured, the waiver and release might be invalid, especially if the adult who signed the release and waiver was not the child’s parent or legal guardian, or if the parent or guardian’s signature was forged.
Expert Testimony to Establish the Cause of Trampoline Park Injuries
Your Ohio trampoline park injury lawyer may need to hire multiple experts to properly pursue your case. Most personal injury cases require a medical professional to testify to the cause of the injury. In addition, it can be useful to work with an expert who is familiar with physics, safety engineering, and biomechanics. In fact, some experts believe that trampoline parks are defective by design because they expose the human body to an unreasonable risk of injury - especially if multiple jumpers are allowed, or if the trampoline park features angled trampolines that expose the body to lateral forces.
Lower leg injuries are especially common at trampoline parks because trampolines were originally designed for vertical jumps. The introduction of lateral jumps exposes the human body additional lateral forces - such as when jumping off of a trampoline set at an angle, or when playing games like dodgeball or basketball.
Let Robenalt Law Fight for You in Your Ohio Trampoline Injury Case
If someone you love suffered a trampoline park injury, contact the experienced Ohio trampoline park injury lawyers at Robenalt Law today to schedule a free initial consultation.
Call us today at (216) 223-7535, complete our online form, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing amusement parks at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those who have suffered trampoline park injuries.