A Texas teenager was recently awarded $11.5 million in damages after suffering a traumatic brain injury at a trampoline park three years ago. Local ABC affiliate, WFAA8, reported the boy was injured while playing at an indoor trampoline park on a slide. Somewhere near the base of the slide, a tear or rip caused the child to fall about five feet to the concrete floor.
The teen was rushed to a local hospital, suffering a brain bleed and traumatic head injury.
Following a two-week trial, jurors in Harris County found defendant trampoline park not just negligent, but grossly negligent. This multi-million-dollar damage award is believed to be the highest ever against a commercial trampoline park in the U.S.
Approximately $5.5 million of the verdict is for compensatory damages – meaning it compensates plaintiff for tangible losses – while $6 million was awarded in punitive damages, which is intended to punish the defendant and deter such careless/ negligent action in the future.
Although the case made headlines for the sizable damage award, the growing popularity of “trampoline parks” has increased the number of trampoline personal injury in Texas and throughout the country. These indoor trampoline parks are usually comprised of a number of connected trampolines in large rooms surrounded either by padding or walls made of trampolines.
A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthapaedics in 2014 revealed more than 1 million people were treated at hospital emergency rooms for trampoline-related injuries between 2002 and 2011. Of those, nearly 300,000 included fractured bones. Total expense for these injuries? $1 billion. Of that, about $400 million was specifically for fractures. On the whole, traumatic brain injuries tend to be especially costly, particularly when they cause debilitating or long-term damage.
A more recent study, published last month in the journal Pediatrics, revealed emergency room visits following injuries sustained specifically at indoor trampoline parks ballooned from fewer than 600 in 2010 to nearly 7,000 in 2014. Still, most trampoline-related injuries – 92,000 annually – occurred at someone’s private residence. Of the trampoline injuries where location was known, trampoline park incidents accounted for 11 percent.
Researchers found that older teens were more likely in these instances to suffer injuries to the axial skeleton, which includes the skull/face, spine and ribs/sternum. Study authors opined this was likely because older teens were jumping higher and with greater force. Additionally, teens are known as risk takers. While younger children may not fully understand the possible outcome of a given action, teens will “push the limit.”
That does not mean trampoline parks or property owners can’t be held liable, as the recent Texas case clearly shows. This is true even when parents or teens sign waivers of liability. Although liability waivers may shield trampoline parks from lawsuits stemming from simple negligence, they generally will not insulate from actions alleging gross negligence. Whereas simple negligence is the absence of reasonable care, gross negligence is the conscious and voluntary disregard for the need to use reasonable care which is likely to cause foreseeable serious injury or harm to another person.
If you or your child have been injured in San Antonio, it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney who can explain your legal rights.
Contact our experienced San Antonio personal injury lawyers at (210) 308-8811.
Texas teen gets $11.5M in trampoline park lawsuit, Feb. 27, 2016, WFAA
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San Antonio Teenager Critically Injured in Bicycle Accident, June 24, 2016, San Antonio Injury Lawyer Blog