How to keep your child out of the ER – and yourself out of court.
I was at a picnic with my children when a friend asked me if she should get a trampoline. I thought this was a strange question – she can do what she wants, it’s a free country! Then, I realized she was asking me, as a lawyer, if she should get a trampoline. In my professional opinion, did I think trampolines were safe?
Furthermore, she asked me if I thought she should have anyone who used the trampoline sign a liability waiver/release document before jumping on it. Her family really wanted one, but she was worried about the associated dangers to her children and her children’s friends. I can understand her concern. Trampolines cause many personal injuries, and can land an unprepared person in court, or an unsuspecting child in the emergency room.
This is what I told my friend, and what I would tell anyone considering buying a trampoline.
What You Need to Know:
- Everyone knows that trampolines can create injuries, so you need to do everything within your power to make the trampoline safe. Every owner of a trampoline needs to be aware of the dangers.
- A trampoline owner is not automatically liable just because someone gets hurt; the injured party would have to show that you were negligent with respect to the trampoline.
- The trampoline should be installed properly using manufacturer’s instructions/directions.
- The trampoline should have a safety net.
- The trampoline should be properly maintained, i.e. replace ripped safety nets, springs, make sure the trampoline unit is on solid ground and stable, etc.
- Supervise those using the trampoline, especially children. Enforce rules against horseplay, multiple people using it at the same time, bouncing others (especially younger children) and flips. Make sure visiting parents understand that you expect them to supervise their children on the trampoline.
- A liability waiver/release form signed by parents/guardians won’t hurt, but may be an awkward request. You should understand that the waiver/release only provides notice, acknowledgment and acceptance of the danger and does not absolve you from negligence.
- Contact your homeowners insurance to find out if injuries sustained on your trampoline are covered. Many homeowners policies exclude liability coverage related to a trampoline.
- The most common injuries obtained from a trampoline are a result of landing wrong while jumping (flips, etc.), attempting stunts, colliding with another person, falling or jumping off the trampoline and landing on springs or the frame. Paralysis can occur if a jumper lands on his/her neck.
My comments do not constitute as legal opinions and are offered for the purposes of discussion only. The law differs in every jurisdiction/state, and you should not rely on my comments concerning your own case/issues. You should seek immediate legal counsel in your particular jurisdiction before making decisions regarding a trampoline.