Who Is Liable for Trampoline Injuries?

It could be the homeowner, the manufacturer, even your fellow trampoline user. Here's what to consider.

By , Attorney

When someone gets hurt on a trampoline, it doesn't always follow that someone else will be on the legal hook. But in situations where the negligence of the property owner or some other party played a role in causing the accident, the injured person may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses, via a personal injury claim. Besides the property owner, a viable claim might be brought against the trampoline manufacturer or another person who was using the trampoline at the time of the accident. Read on to find out who may be liable for a trampoline injury.

Who Is Responsible for the Injury?

When someone gets hurt, the first thing most people want to know when someone is hurt is, "Who was at fault?"

When it comes to trampoline injuries, the answer to that all-important question depends on two things:

  • a consideration of everyone who could be responsible for the injury, and
  • an examination of the way the injury occurred.

Possible Responsible Parties

While it's true that a trampoline accident could always be the trampoline user's fault, any one of these three people might also be responsible:

  • the trampoline manufacturer
  • the trampoline owner, or
  • another trampoline user.

This distinction is important because pursuing the wrong party could mean you end up with nothing. For example, if a child receives a concussion after the leg of a trampoline breaks, you might assume the injury is the manufacturer's fault. While this might be true if the manufacturer used low-quality steel, it wouldn't be true if the leg broke due to years of accumulated rust. In that situation, if you only sue the manufacturer and it turns out the owner didn't properly take care of the equipment, you might not recover anything.

So, What Happened Exactly?

It's crucial to understand exactly how the injury occurred. Most trampoline accidents fit into one of three scenarios:

  • something was wrong with the trampoline when it left the manufacturer
  • the trampoline owner did not properly maintain it or adequately supervise its use, or
  • the people using the trampoline did not use it in a responsible manner.

Understanding Which Lawsuit to File

Once you know what happened and who is at fault, figuring out the type of lawsuit you should file becomes much easier. Here are the possibilities:

  • if the manufacturer caused the injury, you sue the manufacturer in a products liability case
  • if the trampoline owner caused the problem, you sue the owner under a premises liability theory, or
  • if someone else is responsible for the injury, such as another user, you file a negligence action against that person.

When to File a Products Liability Claim against the Manufacturer

A manufacturer risks a lawsuit when it fails to live up to its promises and obligations in connection with a product. This means that trampoline manufacturers must make sure trampolines are safe for their intended purpose. For example, if a trampoline claims to support a 200-pound person, the bolts should not give way when an average-size child uses it.

When to File a Premises Liability Claims against the Owner

A property owner -- or the person in control of the property, such as a renter -- is responsible for taking appropriate steps to protect visitors from harm. This includes making an adequate effort to ensure the safety of people using a trampoline on the property. In most situations, trampoline owners must take reasonable steps to:

  • properly maintain the trampoline
  • properly supervise its use, and
  • ensure it is safe to use.

Proper Maintenance. Trampoline owners must make sure the trampoline is in good condition. Like everything else, trampolines deteriorate over time—especially when left outside in the elements—and an owner who lets people jump on an old, rickety trampoline might be responsible for injuries. Trampolines also should not be near unsafe areas, such as a concrete patio or low-hanging power lines.

Proper Supervision. Owners must properly supervise people using the trampoline, especially those who may not understand the risks, such as children and teens. Common causes of trampoline injuries include attempting dangerous tricks and people colliding into each other when more than one person jumps at a time.

Attractive Nuisance. Children are naturally attracted to things such as pools and trampolines, and an owner is responsible for making sure that children cannot freely access these "attractive nuisances." Keeping the trampoline within a fenced area or storing the access ladder away from the trampoline can help limit both injuries and potential liability.

When to File a Negligence Claim against another Participant

Everyone has the responsibility to act in a reasonable manner under a given set of circumstances. Knocking a fellow jumper off of a trampoline by throwing a chair cushion, or by unexpectedly jumping on the trampoline, might be considered unreasonable. In that situation, the unreasonable person might be liable for the injuries caused by their negligent behavior.

Assumption of the Risk Defense

The law considers certain activities—such as sky diving, football and skiing—to be "inherently dangerous." This means participants should know they might get hurt taking part in these activities, and if they get hurt, they may not be able to pursue a legal remedy against others. While this defense may work against an adult—and that isn't always a given—it is less likely to be successful if the party injured is a child. (Find out more about Defenses to Personal Injury Claims.)

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