Trampoline parks are springing up all across America, and so are emergency room visits by children getting hurt at these facilities. A recent study revealed emergency room visits following injuries sustained specifically at indoor trampoline parks ballooned from fewer than 600 in 2010 to nearly 7,000 in 2014.Almost every one of these trampoline parks requires jumpers, or their parents, to sign waivers prior to entering the jumping facility. Does that mean you cannot sue the trampoline park if your child gets injured?
Trampoline Park Waivers
Trampoline park waivers almost always contain clauses waiving your right to recover any costs associated with injuries sustained while jumping on the trampolines in the park. They often go further to state that if you try to sue, they will go after you for legal fees. And they don’t just release the facility operator from liability, but just about anyone that has ever touched the trampoline. If your child gets hurt jumping on one, is recovering costs hopeless? Not necessarily.
Not All Waivers Are Iron-Clad
Waivers are governed by state law, and they often hold up in court. However, most states allow plaintiffs to negate waivers in some situations, such as:
Language: You may be able to claim that the liability release is written poorly or is inadequate, and therefore void. Maybe it’s too long? Too short? Too vague?
Format: Critical language must be written in a way that isn’t easily missed. Is it in all capital letters? Is it towards the front of the waiver agreement?
Misrepresentation: You may be able to claim the waiver is invalid if the company is misrepresenting its product or service. Is the company claiming to offer one service/product but providing another?
Gross Negligence: A waiver can protect against ordinary negligence, but not gross negligence or recklessness. This is judged by a “reasonableness” standard, and you may have to go all the way to litigation to negate a waiver based on gross negligence.
Content: If a waiver is looking to protect more than just the trampoline company, it needs to clearly list the other parties by name. Is there another non-named party that could be liable for the injury?
Defective Product: Waivers can never protect against a product that was manufactured defectively.
Trampoline Park Injury: Verdict for Plaintiff
In 2016, a Texas family was awarded $11.485 million in a lawsuit filed after their son suffered a traumatic brain injury at a trampoline park in 2013. About half of that award was for compensatory damages and half for punitive damages. In that case, there was a tear in the trampoline, and the boy fell through the trampoline and onto the hard floor. The trampoline park waiver could not protect the company against gross negligence, and the family won the case.
If you or your child was hurt in a trampoline park accident, you may be able to recover for your loss, even if you signed a waiver. Contact a local personal injury to see if the facts in your case are actionable.