Indianapolis, IN – Trampolines can often be an accident waiting to happen, especially those that lack protective netting along the sides that prevent a jumper from being bounced onto the ground.
Beyond that, is a recent Indiana Supreme Court decision that faults the parents of an unsupervised six-year-old boy, left alone in an unfenced back yard, after he invited a neighboring child over for a try. The 12-year-old girl subsequently fell and injured her knee.
She was lucky, in that individuals have suffered serious injuries on trampolines.
They may look like tremendous fun, and quite effortless to the untrained eye. But trampoline jumping is anything but easy, and the physics governing the behavior of the trampoline is altered if a number of people are jumping at the same time. In most instances, the trampoline controls the user, rather than the other way ’round—and it’s not hard at all to land on one’s head and sustain a serious neck injury, even if landing on the trampoline itself.
Those units not equipped with a cage, which serves to prevent falls to the ground, can be dangerous. There have been many serious injuries, and deaths after a jumper has bounced off the trampoline completely, only to land hard on the ground below.
And then there is the Indiana case, whereby a six-year-old boy was jumping on his trampoline unsupervised. He invited a neighboring child, age 12, to jump with him. The older girl subsequently fell and injured her knee.
The girl’s mother sued, alleging both premises liability, and liability for having an attractive nuisance. The parents of the boy countered that the girl was trespassing and that the attractive nuisance doctrine did not apply in the case.
The Indiana Supreme Court disagreed, and remanded the case for further action.
“Although [the son] was only six years old, his parents left him alone in the unfenced backyard. [His] age might suggest to an adult that he lacked authority [to invite someone into the yard]. But [the plaintiff’s daughter] is also a minor. A landowner’s greater duties to children may arise ‘taking into account the abilities, age, experience and maturity of the child …'”
“‘[T]he reasonableness of [the 12-year-old girl’s] belief that she had permission to jump on the [neighbors’] trampoline by virtue of [the 6-year-old boy’s] invitation … presents a genuine issue of material fact that precludes a determination of her status as a matter of law.”
The Indiana Supreme Court: Kopczynski v. Barger, No. 88S05-0710-CV-42. June 4, 2008, ruled that the attractive nuisance doctrine may, indeed apply.
“The particular risks associated with jumping on a trampoline are not necessarily open and obvious to children, particularly to those who have never jumped before. … [A] child may be lulled into thinking a trampoline is safe by watching others jump without incident or injury … In this case the designated evidence conflicts regarding whether [the girl] could have appreciated the dangers of jumping on a trampoline, particularly with multiple jumpers. … Although [she] admits she had watched [the boy] jump prior to her accident, there is no evidence that [she] witnessed any injuries or had seen multiple jumpers on the trampoline. …
“The [defendants] have [also] not shown that it is unreasonable to assume that children would be attracted to a large trampoline that sits in the middle of an open yard, particularly when there is an unsupervised child regularly jumping on it.”
Given the number, and popularity of trampolines out there—and the time of year—one could be assured there are similar accidents waiting to happen.
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