Trampoline parks have become incredibly popular in recent years. On any given day if you visit a local trampoline indoor park, you’ll likely see dozens of kids if not more, all jumping and climbing on equipment.
While it can sound like fun, there are some real risks of trampoline parks to be aware of, and they have contributed to serious accidents.
Before taking your child to a trampoline park, you are asked to sign a liability waiver because of how risky they can be.
You should read the fine print and understand the risks.
The following are some of the big things parents should know about trampoline parks.
What is a Liability Waiver?
First, in general, what is a liability waiver?
A liability waiver is a legal contract you enter into with a business when participating in something related to that business.
Along with signing a liability waiver at a trampoline park, you might also sign one before horseback riding or at a rock climbing gym, as an example.
Liability waiver forms are meant to reduce the negligence suits filed against a business if its customers are injured. However, waivers only release businesses from liability related to ordinary negligence. It doesn’t apply to gross negligence or an intentional injury.
Some businesses will post warning signs they aren’t liable for injuries that happen on their property, but those don’t have a lot of legal value.
With liability waivers or releases, businesses are ensuring that a customer says in writing, they understand the risks of the business, and they agree that they are accepting those risks. The customer also waives their right to sue a business because of injuries related to the activity they are participating in.
A liability release form isn’t a way to avoid getting liability insurance. If you sign a waiver as a business customer, you can still file an insurance claim. There are also lawsuits that can come up from accidents that aren’t covered by the waiver.
As a customer of a trampoline park, you do need to realize that a liability waiver is, in fact a legal contract. You are expected to read it thoroughly before signing.
If you were in a court situation, the waiver would hold up as long as it doesn’t violate state law, is properly worded, and the injury comes from the stated risks in the contract.
Can a Trampoline Park Really Waive Liability?
While some of this has been touched on, the reality of how much liability a trampoline park can really waive depends on the specifics of an injury that might occur and the state where you visit the park.
A waiver won’t prevent a lawsuit that’s the result of the operator’s negligent acts.
Many trampoline park waivers include something requiring arbitration. Arbitration is what an injured party might have to go through.
Arbitration is an alternative form of resolving a dispute that keeps a case from going to trial. It also requires that the ruling is kept private.
The benefit for the park is that they don’t have a public trial, and they get more control over any legal proceedings.
So with all that being said, what are the risks of trampoline parks?
Some of the injuries that are most frequently sustained at trampoline parks include brain injuries and head trauma, neck injuries, and spinal fractures.
Broken legs, sprains, and dislocations are also common.
In 2017, trampoline park injuries led to around 18,000 emergency room visits. Trampoline-related injuries, in general, lead to almost 100,000 visits to the emergency room each year.
Studies looking at trampoline parks have found that the injuries incurred at these recreation facilities are often more severe than what occurs with at-home trampoline use.
It’s not just children who get injured at trampoline parks, either. Some adult injuries at these parks have been so severe they have lead to death.
For example, Ric Sweezy, a collegiate national championship gymnast, died in 2017. He landed on the wrong foot and hit his head on a lightly padded wall at a trampoline park. The vertebrae in his neck cracked, restricting his airway and the blood flow to the brain. He became brain dead and died.
What Causes These Injuries?
One of the big factors leading to injuries at trampoline parks is a double bounce. A double bounce is when one person’s jump causes a wave on the surface of the trampoline. That can then cause someone else to experience a crush-like injury if they’re bouncing at the same time.
Hitting walls or springs can also cause injuries.
People may bounce and land on top of one another, and there are risks because there are people of all different ages and sizes often bouncing at the same time.
Safety Tips at Trampoline Parks
If you do take your children to a trampoline park, there are safety tips to keep in mind.
First, there really should only be one person using a trampoline at a time. Try to take your kids during off-peak hours if they want to go to a trampoline park. The more people there are at any given time, the riskier it becomes.
Watch and ensure that your child is jumping alone.
You also want to check out the sides of the trampoline before your child jumps on.
The shock-absorbing pad should completely cover the hooks, springs, and frames.
While it may be tempting to read a book or scroll through your social media when you’re with your kids at a trampoline park, don’t. This is especially true if you have younger kids. They need supervision. You can’t rely on park employees to provide that supervision either, because they’re watching many other people simultaneously.
The truth is, trampoline parks can be dangerous so think carefully before visiting one.
Try to avoid crowds if you do visit and carefully read the liability waiver before you have your child jump.