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What happens if someone is seriously injured on a trampoline?
Who gets hurt on a trampoline?
Lots of people, apparently.
There were more than 300,000 trampoline injuries that required medical treatment in 2018, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Of those, there were more than 110,000 emergency department visits.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says more than 90% of trampoline injuries happen to children between the ages of 5 and 14. More than three-quarters are the result of 2 children colliding in the air while jumping at the same time.
Common types of trampoline injuries
One study by the National Institutes of Health reported that the majority of injuries were on the main part of the trampoline, which includes falling on the mat, collisions with others, or falls on the frame or springs. About 22% of the injuries involved falling off a trampoline. Also, nearly 75% of the accidents happened when there were more than 2 people using a trampoline at the same time.
The most commonly reported trampoline injuries are:
- Fractures (36%)
- Injury to ligaments (36%)
- Contusions (20%)
- Lacerations (7%)
- Dislocations (1%)
Common causes of trampoline accidents
The 4 main causes of trampoline injuries are:
- Collisions with other jumpers
- Falling on the mat, frame, or springs
- Falling off the equipment onto the ground or a hard surface
- Failures when attempting somersaults, flips, or other stunts
Liability for a trampoline injury
Personal injury and premises liability law, which includes injury claims arising from trampoline accidents, hinges on the concept of negligence. In order to recover damages for a personal injury, the injured person needs to prove the following:
- The defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff. A “duty” can exist between people who don’t have a previously existing relationship. For example, the owner of a trampoline has a duty to any person who has permission to use it.
- The defendant breaches their duty. This might mean that a trampoline owner didn’t ensure that the equipment was properly maintained or that reasonable safety precautions weren’t taken.
- The breach caused your injury. The plaintiff would need to prove that the reason they were injured was because of that breach. For example, if the trampoline had a broken spring but the person was injured because they fell off as a result of gauging distance incorrectly, the injury wasn’t caused by the broken spring. But if they did a hard bounce and the trampoline collapsed beneath them because of the broken spring, then the faulty maintenance might be found to be the cause of the injury.
- The injury cost money. The premise of personal injury law is that it makes a plaintiff whole, or restores them financially to the position they’d be in if the injury hadn’t happened. In other words, if your injury costs money for compensable items like medical treatment or lost wages, you can recover those expenses.
Most trampoline accidents happen for one of these reasons:
- The owner didn’t properly maintain the trampoline or supervise children using it.
- The trampoline was defective when it left the manufacturer.
- The trampoline users were not responsible and engaged in risky behavior.
How the accident happened will inform which area of law would be most effective for a lawsuit.
A trampoline injury sometimes falls under the category of premises liability. A premises liability claim is based on an injury that happens because of a dangerous condition on a property. This could be anything from a broken floor tile to a dog bite, and it might include a trampoline injury.
You can usually sue the owner of the trampoline (i.e. the owner of the property where the trampoline is located) under premises liability law if your injury was caused by:
- The owner’s failure to properly maintain the trampoline. This includes not only the trampoline, itself, but also its placement. A trampoline should not be used near concrete ground, low-hanging power lines, or other hazards.
- The owner’s failure to adequately supervise its use. It’s the owner’s responsibility to supervise a person using the trampoline, particularly if it’s being used by children or teenagers. If you’re the parent in charge of watching kids on a trampoline, don’t hesitate to restrict them from doing flips or unsafe jumps.
Some homeowners’ insurance policies will charge additional premiums for homes with trampolines. If you’re purchasing or own a trampoline, it’s important to check your policy. You want to be sure the insurer is aware that you have a trampoline because if it’s not specifically covered under your policy, the insurance company might not cover you if someone is injured.
A trampoline can be defective in 3 ways:
- The product has a design defect, which means the way the trampoline was built or created is inherently unsafe.
- The product has a manufacturing defect, which means that the trampoline would be safe but something happened during the manufacturing process that left it unsafe, even when used properly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- There were inadequate warnings. Most trampolines come with a set of instructions and warnings. If the manufacturer didn’t warn of the risks of using the product or if the instructions were insufficient when the product is being used correctly, the manufacturer could be liable for an injury.
There are circumstances when you might be able to sue another trampoline user for your injuries. For example, if someone knocked you off the trampoline negligently (either on purpose or recklessly), jumped into the trampoline when you weren’t expecting it, or in some other way causes your injury through behavior that could be considered unreasonable, then they may be held liable.
This might be especially important if you were injured at a trampoline gym, rather than at someone’s home. If you’ve ever been to a trampoline park or gym, you likely signed a waiver that specifies that the owner is not responsible for certain injuries.
However, that waiver doesn’t mean you can’t sue the gym if your injury was caused by the gym’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct.
For example, most trampoline parks have areas that are specially designated for younger children, and they usually have staff who are present to enforce the rules. If an employee who’s tasked with preventing older children into the younger child section fails to do so and your child is injured by an adult who wasn’t supposed to be there, you might be able to sue both the gym and the adult whose behavior injured your child.
Assumption of Risk Defense
The courts have said that certain activities are inherently dangerous. This might include football, skiing, drag racing, bungee jumping and rappelling. A person should know that they might get hurt if they participate in these activities. While there’s no specific list of dangerous activities, someone who’s sued for a trampoline injury might argue that the participant knew or should’ve known that there was a risk of injury.
This is more likely to apply to an injury of an adult than a child, but it could also apply when a parent gives permission for or has knowledge of their child’s participation in a dangerous activity.
Damages from a trampoline injury
If you’re injured in a trampoline accident, you can recover damages for:
- Medical treatment, including doctor or hospital visits, surgeries, medication, therapies, rehabilitation, assistive devices, or other expenses.
- Lost wages if the injury caused you to lose time from work or if you’re unable to return to work in the capacity you did before the accident.
- Pain and suffering or emotional distress.
- Wrongful death, if you’re the surviving family member of a person who died in a trampoline accident.
- Punitive damages, if the negligence was malicious or especially reckless.
Again, accidents happen. If you own a trampoline that is free of defects and you’re injured on your own property, there’s no one to sue. If you or your child were injured at a friend’s house while using their trampoline, you’d have to prove that your friend was negligent — that they didn’t properly maintain or supervise trampoline use — or that it was defective.
Tips for staying safe on a trampoline
It’s always important to be careful, understand the risks with any activity, and take the correct precautions to stay safe.
Make sure equipment is well-maintained.
Supporting bars, springs, and landing surfaces should have adequate protective padding that’s in good condition and correctly positioned. The equipment should not have tears, detached parts, or deterioration. It should be replaced if there’s visible wear and tear or damage.
Adult supervision is important!
An adult should supervise children at all times when they are using a trampoline.
Here are some other rules to follow:
- Children under 6 years old should not use a trampoline.
- Only 1 person at a time should use the trampoline.
- A safety net enclosure is not fail-safe. Most injuries happen on the trampoline mat.
- Ladders should be removed when not using the trampoline in order to prevent children from using the equipment without supervision.
- Don’t allow somersaults, flips, or other risky maneuvers without proper training and supervision. People who want to do these kinds of tricks should use a harness.
- There should be spotters present who are actively watching jumpers.
More than 18,000 children were treated in emergency rooms for bounce house injuries in 2018. If your child will be playing in a bounce house, they should be supervised at all times and the number of children in a bounce house at a time should be limited.
If you were injured in a trampoline accident and you think you might have a lawsuit, you can use the Enjuris law firm directory to find an attorney near you who can help with your case.
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