Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Superbowl. The start of “Facebook.” The death of President Reagan. The aftermath of Hurricane Charley. Amid these noteworthy events in 2004, you may have missed the opening of the SkyMania Fun Center in Las Vegas. Now part of the SkyZone empire, that first indoor trampoline park launched an industry that currently boasts around 350 locations nationwide, including Off the Wall in Coconut Creek and Trampoline High in Miami.
However, the thrill of bouncing around indoors comes with a steep price. Trampoline parks carry a high risk of injury such as broken bones, concussions, sprains, bruises, neck injuries, paralysis and even death. Nearly 100,000 trampoline-related injuries occur each year: 83,665 in 2013 and 94,900 in 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (which does not make a distinction between injuries that occur at trampoline parks and those that occur on trampolines elsewhere). Jumping at a trampoline park is at least as dangerous as full-contact football, downhill skiing and snowboarding, according to preliminary research by the advocacy group Think Before You Bounce.
Indoor trampoline parks generally feature one huge trampoline mat divided into sections for individual users, surrounded by padded bumpers or foam pits. Both the padding and the foam do little to protect bouncers from the main sources of injuries:
- Landing wrong while jumping
- Landing wrong while attempting tricks such as flips or somersaults
- Falling between sections
- Colliding with another person, especially when there is a large size difference between them
- Double bouncing.
Currently, there are no federal standards regarding trampoline parks, and only a handful of states have considered regulations. Florida has not legislated them and they are not considered to be amusement parks subject to the jurisdiction of the state’s Bureau of Fair Rides because they have no moving parts. This leaves design, maintenance and safety guidelines up to local government, allowing for significant variation between parks. While the International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP), a trade organization of park owners, has developed international safety standards for trampoline parks, the measures are voluntary and do not make trampolining risk free.
Visitors to trampoline parks are almost always required to sign liability waivers, which reflects the fact that trampoline operators are aware of just how dangerous these parks can be. Many waivers include language stating that participation in trampoline activities is an inherently dangerous recreational activity and that catastrophic injury, paralysis or even death may result from failing to follow the rules – and sometimes even if all rules are followed. Even in situations where a disclosure was signed, there have been court liability awards for injured children, and there are numerous lawsuits pending around the country. Though every case is different, if you or a loved one has been injured at a trampoline park, it’s worth your time to seek advice from an experienced attorney.
If you do choose to visit a trampoline park, here are a few safety precautions you should see being followed. If you don’t, consider leaving.
- Jumpers should receive instructions for safe bouncing.
- Only one person at a time should be allowed to bounce in each area.
- Small and large jumpers should be on different trampoline courts.
- Children under 6 should not be allowed on trampolines.
- There should be numerous court supervisors watching at all times.
If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at Stabinski Law Even though you signed a waiver of liability, you may still be able to hold trampoline park operators accountable for negligence. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us today by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form.