Two devastating news stories emerged this week regarding trampoline related pediatric injuries. In this post, we explore four common liability risks for property owners with trampolines on their premises.
1. The Strong Lure This Equipment Poses to Young Children
The simple fact that a trampoline is accessible on a property can potentially expose an owner to liability for injuries, even to children who do not have permission to use the device. Neighbourhood children tend to know where trampolines are located, and how to get at them, even when the owners are not around. Section 13 of Alberta’s Occupier’s Liability Act sets out a special provision that prescribes a high duty of care to child trespassers.
2. The Challenges of Supervision
The Canada Safety Council has provided a safety tip sheet for backyard trampolines, which, if followed, can be seen by some as “taking all the fun” out of having a trampoline in the first place. Over time, particularly as the owners’ own skill improves, adherence to these restrictions may fade. Active parental supervision is time consuming, and once the novelty of the equipment wears off, it can be tempting to ease up on the rules.
3. The False Sense Of Security That Nets and Padding Provide
Today’s backyard trampolines may be marketed as a safe product, with new construction that incorporates netting, padding, and spring-free design. Unfortunately, the physics involved with catastrophic trampoline injuries remains the same. Multiple children bouncing at the same time can send jumpers flying with forces beyond their skill to control. Mid-air collisions and bodies landing on each other simply cannot be mitigated by nets and padding.
Despite the known health benefits of trampolining (in particular, cardiovascular fitness), The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Canadian Pediatric Society, the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine, and Alberta Health Services have all gone so far as to recommend that trampolines NOT be available for use at homes, schools or playgrounds, even with the latest advances.
4. The Fine Print In Some Homeowners’ Insurance Policies
Unfortunately, the special risks associated with trampolines can unknowingly create insurance coverage issues for homeowners who choose to bring them onto their property. Some homeowners’ insurance policies may even have restrictions or exclusions for this sort of equipment, because of the liability hazards they present. It is important to check with your insurance company before making any decisions regarding backyard trampolines.