We all remember the fun of playing in our friends’ backyards when we were kids, particularly if they had a playground or trampoline. Trampoline parks are meant to combine the best of both worlds, but they can also be incredibly dangerous. In Canada, there are few safety regulations for trampoline parks that are actually enforceable, a topic that has been brought to light after recent serious injuries and even deaths at indoor trampoline parks.
So, what happens if you have a child and he or she becomes injured at a trampoline park, or worse? Do you have any legal rights?
Let’s take a look.
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Trampoline Park Risks
While trampoline parks and associated injuries have received a lot of attention in the United States, more severe cases in Canada surfaced earlier this year after a civil lawsuit filed by the family of a 46-year-old man who died after breaking his neck in a foam pit at Richmond’s Extreme Air Park, according to an investigation by North Shore News in Vancouver. A similar incident happened at another trampoline park in Canada a year prior, leaving a teenager paralyzed from the chest down.
There are now over 1,000 trampoline parks worldwide — all which have come into existence in just the past eight years. Hospitals in Canada are now seeing trampoline park injuries almost daily. The risks at trampoline parks or on backyard trampolines can vary, but include:
- Colliding with another person or landing on them;
- Getting pushed off the trampoline;
- Falling off the trampoline and landing hard on an object or the ground;
- Trying to do flips or tricks;
- Landing improperly while jumping;
- Jumping off the trampoline instead of climbing off; and
- Coming into contact with the frame or springs.
Information on trampoline-related injuries in Canada hasn’t been consistently gathered over the years, and underreporting is expected. However, between 1990 and 1998, trampoline injuries to children in Canada nearly quadrupled. In the latest data year available, 2003, nearly 700 hospital admissions for trampoline injuries were recorded that year in the Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program database.
Types of Trampoline Injuries
According to a report by the Canadian Paediatric Society, the severity of trampoline-related injuries is increasing, as well.
“Using hospital admission rates as a measure of injury severity, trampoline injuries result in greater harm than injuries incurred in other sports or recreational activities. In Canada, despite the fact that trampoline injuries occur less often than other sport- and recreation-related injuries, perhaps reflecting lower participation rates, they result in a relatively greater frequency of hospital admissions.”
Hospital admissions in Canada for backyard trampoline injuries increased 56% between 1990 and 2001.
The most common types of trampoline injuries include:
- Fractures, often in the upper limbs;
- Sprains; and
Most injuries occur to the extremities from falling off a trampoline, particularly the upper limbs. The most at-risk group for trampoline injuries are children between ages 5 and 14, though ones ages 7 to 10 have the most hospital admissions.
Trampoline Park Safety Regulations
As the amount of trampoline parks in the United States has increased, so have related injuries. As such, more laws were made in some states. But in Canada, despite an increase in popularity of trampoline parks, there has been little done to change safety regulations.
According to Health Canada, “there are currently no Canadian regulations regarding trampolines.” Construction or design flaws from the manufacturer, however, would result in the government taking “appropriate action to ensure that the health and safety of Canadians is protected.”
There is also no comprehensive injury data on trampoline parks or even backyard trampolines. The information on Health Canada’s website was last updated in 2006 and, while it doesn’t mention trampoline parks, a recent hospital audit in the UK has found that children are suffering worse injuries in trampoline parks than with backyard trampolines.
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Reducing Your Risk of Trampoline-Related Injures
Despite the lack of regulations, Health Canada and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons both suggest limiting trampoline use to children ages 6 and older, letting only one child use a trampoline at a time, ensuring supervision, and not allowing any flips or tricks. Safe Kids Canada has called for eliminating backyard trampolines altogether and discourages use on playgrounds.
The Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine also recommend the following:
- Children should not use trampolines for recreational purposes at home, and trampolines shouldn’t be part of outdoor playgrounds;
- Family doctors should warn parents about the dangers of trampolines and advise them against purchase for the home “because enclosures and adequate supervision are no guarantee against injury;”
- Canadian legislation should require warning labels on trampolines; and
- Additional research should be done on injuries that occur in supervised settings (schools and athlete training programs) to assess the risk in these settings.
Should you decide to still use a backyard trampoline or go to a trampoline park, Health Canada advises additional ways to minimize your risk of injury.
Trampoline Park Litigation
Trampoline parks have been the subject of several civil lawsuits across Canada, with the owners of Extreme Air Park sued over personal injuries at least three times since 2014. Although people who enter trampoline parks sign waivers of liability and are informed of the rules at the park, the man who died in Richmond allegedly did not receive prompt first aid by staff. In January 2018, Extreme Air Park settled an unrelated claim for $3,000 and said it would review procedures for its users who are under 5 years old (although health agencies recommend not using trampolines at that young of an age).
The landscape of backyard trampoline and trampoline park litigation may change in the coming years as regulations are reviewed. Industry standards are based on U.S. trampoline parks — not Canadian parks, which are not currently regulated.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a trampoline park or by a trampoline in another person’s backyard, you may have a personal injury claim. While waivers are used by businesses like trampoline parks in an attempt to protect them from lawsuits, they may not be worded properly or enforceable when signed by a minor. Contact Preszler Law Firm today for a free case review.