Indoor trampoline "parks" are a huge hit with people of all ages. Unfortunately, they may not be remotely safe, and a lot of people -- especially children -- are getting hurt.
Before you take your family to one of these popular attractions, there are a few things you should know.
Emergency Room Visits Related to Trampoline Parks Have Increased Dramatically
According to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), trampoline park injuries have risen rapidly in the last few years. In 2010, there were only 581 emergency room visits related to trampoline park injuries. Four short years later, however, there were almost 7000. That's a startling increase, especially compared to the fact that injuries associated with home trampolines stayed steady during the same time period.
Much of the increase in injuries is likely due to the fact that the indoor trampoline parks are just about everywhere these days. There were no more than 40 in the U.S. in 2011, but there were at least 280 in 2014 -- with more opening every month. The parks generally have a gymnasium-style setup with wall-to-wall trampolines along with features like padded "pits" into which guests can perform flips.
Guests May Not Be Suited to the Activity -- And the Trampoline Parks May Not Care
Do the trampoline parks realize that many of their guests lack the experience to be on a trampoline safely? Do they anticipate the fact that people overestimate their physical skills and try too hard to perform tricks on trampolines?
Probably. Most trampoline parks require guests to sign waivers that supposedly shield them from liability. Most waivers don't just seek to protect parks from a guest's foolish actions, but also from their own negligence. In other words, they don't want you to have the right to sue even if your injury resulted from a damaged trampoline or some other safety issue.
Given the inherent danger of these parks and their general reluctance to take any responsibility for a guest's safety -- it may be wise to take your family somewhere else. In fact, the AAP certainly recommends it.
You Should Never Assume a Waiver Is as Strong as It Seems
Does that mean, however, that you're entirely out of luck if you're learning this too late because you're already injured? Maybe not. Liability waivers are often found to be invalid because they violate state laws or go against public policies designed to keep things fair.
There are a number of reasons that waivers are sometimes voided. A waiver that tries to hide its terms in complex language or fine print is usually invalid. So is one that is too vague. In addition, waivers rarely hold up when the negligence on the part of the park rises to the level of "reckless" or is so extreme that it's shocking.
Unfortunately, those are all things that can be difficult to recognize on your own. Personal injury attorney services can review the waiver you signed, listen to your case, and advise you of your options.