Trampoline parks are one of the fastest-growing attractions in the entertainment world.
According to industry sources, only three such facilities existed in 2009. Now, there are well over 1,000 worldwide.
New Hampshire has several trampoline parks, including Launch Trampoline Park in Nashua, Altitude Trampoline Park in Pelham and Concord, Sky Zone in Manchester, and Blitz Air Park in Portsmouth. These facilities typically offer a variety of activities on their huge expanses of trampoline floors.
For most customers, these trampoline parks are a fun activity and a positive experience. However, as with many physical recreational activities, risks are involved. As with skiing accidents, some injuries are simply an inherent risk of the activity. In other situations, however, the negligent design or operation of the business is to blame.
In 2018, National Public Radio reported that trampoline-park injuries have soared in recent years. Injuries at indoor parks (i.e. trampoline parks) “rose from fewer than 600 in 2010 to 6,932 in 2014.” Additionally, it appears that injuries at commercial facilities are typically more serious than injuries from home trampolines. In several cases, customers have become paralyzed due to trampoline-park-related incidents.
Injuries can occur when a jumper catches their foot in the trampoline structure between the mat and the frame. Additionally, landing on mats and pads around the metal frame can be dangerous. Foam pits may be improperly designed or maintained. And if employees are not supervising sufficiently, collisions can happen (particularly between larger persons and small children).
With injuries have come lawsuit and legal claims. An investigation by Boston 25 News uncovered several lawsuits against Sky Zone parks in particular.
In recognition of those possible legal claims, trampoline parks require their customers to sign liability waivers, also known as liability releases or exculpatory contracts. Sometimes these waivers are done through an electronic or computer registration process in the facilities themselves, or else online when buying tickets. In most states, including New Hampshire, these liability releases are enforceable in recreational contexts – even to protect against negligent conduct. In particular, the New Hampshire Supreme Court decided in McGrath v. SNH Development that enforcing a liability release against a ski area’s negligence did not offend public policy.
However, the general rule enforcing liability releases comes with several very important caveats. For example, at least three New Hampshire courts have invalidated liability releases signed by parents on behalf of their children. Similarly, any waiver signed by a minor (under 18) themselves is likely unenforceable. This is an important exception because trampoline parks are primarily used by children and minors.
Additionally, at least one New Hampshire court has concluded that liability releases are ineffective against claims of recklessness. Reckless conduct is a level of behavior considerably more offensive than negligence, and is a difficult bar to reach. However, if a trampoline park has notice of a certain dangerous condition and the high likelihood of injury, but fails to correct that problem, the facility may be guilty of reckless misconduct. If so, an allegation of recklessness could allow any person (even an adult) to bypass a liability waiver.
In sum, trampoline parks can be a fun and exciting family endeavor. However, if a facility is not operated or designed safely, serious injuries (like broken bones, head trauma, and even paralysis) can result. If you were injured at a trampoline park, contact the attorneys at Welts, White & Fontaine for a free case evaluation. You can call us at (603) 883-0797 or contact us here. We can help you evaluate whether you have a viable claim, and have the tools and knowledge necessary to obtain a favorable settlement or verdict. We handle most personal injury matters on a contingency fee basis. We are happy to offer you a free consultation.
Author: Israel F. Piedra
This blog is intended for informational use only. The information contained herein should not be construed as offering legal advice or a legal opinion.