When Bounce! Becomes Ouch!: Liability For Bounce House Injuries
Try to imagine this scary situation:
You’re at a birthday party for your child’s best friend, and casually chatting with some other parents while your children play happily in an inflatable bounce house nearby. All of a sudden, a huge gust of wind rips through the party. The stakes which are holding the bounce house in place come loose, and the inflatable — with your child inside — is picked up and spent spinning through the air.
It’s a nerve-racking situation to just read about. But this exact situation has happened — more than once! In New York, two kindergarten-aged boys sustained serious head trauma when a bounce house flew away, dumping them out onto the ground from at least 15 feet up in the air. At church carnival in South Carolina, five children were injured when wind gusts sent inflatable houses into trees and power lines. And in England, a 7-year-old girl was killed when a bouncy castle blew away.
Bounce House Injuries
Injuries don’t just occur from errant bounce houses, either. Other injuries occur just from jumping and playing, including:
- Sprains and strains
- Cuts and other lacerations
- Traumatic brain injuries and other head trauma
Bounce house injuries can range from the very mild, like bruises, to fatal, like neck or head injuries. Overall, between 2003 and 2013, 12 people died in bounce house injuries. Most of the deaths resulted from head trauma. A few others were caused by suffocation or drowning in freak accidents. Surprisingly, many of the victims of bounce house accidents were over the age of 18.
Along with these fatalities, there were also an estimated 113,272 injuries that resulted from bounce houses.
When someone is injured in a bounce house, there may be legal actions they can take. However, they would have to prove that the owner or operator of the bounce house was negligent in their actions. Negligence might include:
- Allowing kids to roughhouse
- Allowing too many kids into the bounce house at one time
- Not watching the kids properly
- Failing to secure the bounce house
- Improper setup or maintenance, or failure to notice or fix any defects or dangers
In some situations, the owner might not be liable. If a child climbs to the top of the bounce house, despite warnings not to do so, and falls off, it would have been out of the owner or operator’s control. Similarly, if an injury is caused by another bounce house occupant, it might also be considered unforeseeable, assuming all rules are being followed.
The Importance Of Waivers
Sometimes, bounce house owners or operators will have you sign a waiver before participating, or allowing your child to participate. Read this over very carefully. If an injury does occur, consult the waiver to see what you agreed to, and if you can still sue in certain situations. Waivers generally apply to inherent risks, like broken bones or even head trauma. In the event of an extreme accident, like the bounce house getting blown away, it might fall outside “inherent risks” and therefore be grounds for a lawsuit. Like most things, it truly depends on the situation.
Think before you bounce — and remember, adults, this applies to you, too!
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.