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While children and adults can both find bounce houses to be tremendous amounts of fun, like trampolines, there's a serious risk of injury when things go wrong. A recent injury lawsuit filed in New York State by the parents of two children injured in a bounce house is a reminder of how often these injuries occur.
The parents of the two injured kids are bringing claims against the owner of the bounce house, the toy store that sold it, and the manufacturer. Like many other bounce house injuries, the structure was set up properly, including the use of straps that secure the structure to ground with spikes. However, when a strong gust of wind came, the structure was tossed about, and flung over 10 feet into the air, causing the kids to suffer injuries when they fell to the ground.
Is Bounce Housing Safe?
For many, hearing about another bounce house being flung into the air by a strong gust of wind is nothing new. For some, however, it is completely unexpected, and even more surprising to find out it is a regular occurrence. In fact, on average there are 30 bounce house injuries daily, and wind is a very common factor in these injuries.
What might not come as a surprise is that a vast majority of the accidents happen in non-commercial bounce houses, such as the ones sold at toy stores, rather than the big ones at state fairs, amusement parks, or those rented and operated through reputable vendors. This is very likely due to the natural fear of liability that a commercial bounce house operator would have, which would mandate strict rules, and strict enforcement of those rules.
Additionally, the smaller, at-home, toy-store variety bounce houses generally will weigh less than the commercial varieties, and have weaker mechanisms to secure the structure against strong gusts of wind (though the product likely will have warning labels).
Who's Liable When the Wind Attacks a Bounce House?
When an ordinary bounce house injury occurs, liability may be difficult to assess as people generally are assuming some risk of injury when they enter a bounce house. Frequently, adults and parents may be required to sign liability waivers that protect against ordinary, expected injuries, like a sprained ankle, bumps or bruises, or other relatively minor injuries caused by the normal use of a bounce house. However, waivers are not always going to be enforceable, so speaking with a qualified injury attorney is often a good idea.
But, when a bounce house is flung into the air by the wind, even a careful commercial operator can be found liable as precautions should be taken to prevent such an incident. In cases where an at-home bounce house is operated by a private individual, such as a neighbor, or party host, like the New York State case mentioned above, the host and property owner can potentially be found liable for negligence on a premises liability theory, and the manufacturer and seller (and potentially the private operator as well) can potentially be found liable on a product liability theory.