Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

Outsmarting that liability release at the trampoline park

Trampoline parks have become one of the most popular attractions for children, teens and even active adults. These massive facilities often have numerous trampolines of different sizes and bounciness, allowing visitors to fly through the air to slam-dunk basketballs or dive face-first to avoid a dodgeball. Some have foam pits, where you take a running start and jump, while others have slanted trampolines against the wall that allow people to do incredible acrobatics.

As with home trampolines, trampoline parks carry a substantial risk of severe injury or even death to the people using these facilities. In order to keep insurance low and hire staff with minimal training for lower pay, many of these trampoline parks have everyone who jumps inside sign a liability waiver or release before they can enter. There are some things you should know before you sign one on your own behalf or for one of your children.

Trampolines can cause major injuries

Although the surface of the trampoline is flexible and the springs and supports are usually covered to prevent injury, activities that involve running, jumping and flying through the air inherently carry a risk of injury. Any number of accidents could happen. Two jumpers could accidentally collide in mid-air, resulting in concussions to both parties. One jumper could be thrown through the air and fall on his or her head or neck. Limbs can twist or move in ways they shouldn't when someone is moving at high velocity.

Potential injuries at one of these facilities could include traumatic brain injuries, damage to the spinal cord, broken bones, damaged connective tissue or even death. All of these issues require medical treatment, which could be quite expensive. Some of them could prevent a person from working in the future or even substantially decrease the victim's quality of life.

Add a note about negligence before you sign a waiver

Generally speaking, the policy at these facilities is to deny entry to anyone who won't sign a release or can't get a parent to sign a release in the case of minor children. Of course, you want everyone to be happy and enjoy life, but you don't want anyone to take unnecessary and potentially expensive risks either. Thankfully, there's a simple solution that usually works.

Waivers and releases can contain any language someone want to put in them, but that doesn't mean all of it is legally sound. Specifically, waivers cannot release a party from responsibilities relating to gross negligence. You can add a note when you sign that says "except in cases of negligence," which should be acceptable to everyone involved. That way, you or your child can go have fun without worry about the worst-case scenario. Should someone end up injured because of staff negligence or improper maintenance, you will still have the option to bring a civil lawsuit if necessary.

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