Trampoline parks are popping up everywhere. Like laser tag venues and indoor play areas, they've become a popular place for parents to take their kids for fun and exercise. However, experts warn of serious dangers at these parks.
Those warnings are backed up by some frightening statistics. According to a recent report by CBS News, there have been at least a half dozen trampoline park fatalities over the past seven years and many more injuries -- some catastrophic. These include "[b]roken necks, broken backs, dislocated and open-fractured elbows, shoulders," according to a former gymnastics coach who serves as an expert witness in cases against trampoline parks.
The real numbers might be better reflected when looking at emergency room (ER) visits. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), ER visits resulting from trampoline injuries skyrocketed from 2,500 in 2013 to nearly 18,000 in 2017.
Certainly, jumping on any trampoline can be dangerous. However, when multiple trampolines are interconnected and numerous people of all sizes and weights are jumping in different directions, waves of energy are created. These can result in "double bounces," which can throw people off a trampoline or cause them to collide into a wall or someone else.
It doesn't help that the trampolines are often positioned against thinly padded walls that offer little protection if someone strikes their head. A former gymnast suffered a fatal injury when he and his husband took his twins to a trampoline park in 2017. He struck one of these walls when he fell. According to his husband, "The C2 vertebra cracked, constricted his airway and his blood flow, paralyzed him. He was over 90 percent brain dead."
Another problem is what's on the floor. According to the former coach, the foam pits that people fall into if they're knocked off the trampoline are too shallow to protect from injury.
The International Association of Trampoline Parks acknowledges, "There are parks that do not adhere to industry technical standards, and do not operate with safety at the forefront of their agendas." The group claims it's advocating for third-party inspections.
If you or a loved one has been injured at a trampoline park, it may be wise to determine what your legal options are -- even if you believe you signed your rights away and accepted responsibility for your own safety when you signed the liability waiver. An experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance.