If you’re the parent of a young child, you may have been to one of the many trampoline parks cropping up across the nation. These parks have recently become a billion-dollar industry, fueled by excited, sugar-high children. They jump, flip and race around, often with no regard for other children’s safety.
But when you go to one of these parks, you’re almost always asked to sign a waiver. Even before you get in the door, the park may ask you to give up any right to sue in case of injury. The problem is that you’re not signing away your right to sue. You’re signing away your child’s right to sue. And the Kentucky Supreme Court recently stepped in to say parents and parks couldn’t deny children their individual rights.
A decision in favor of your child’s individual rights
The Supreme Court gave its opinion after considering the case of an 11-year-old girl who suffered a broken ankle when another girl landed on it. The accident took place at the House of Boom trampoline park in Louisville. When the mother sued, the park moved to have the suit dismissed because the mother had signed its waiver. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the pre-injury waiver was unenforceable because:
- Except for in special circumstances, Kentucky parents cannot sign away their children’s rights or enter into contracts on their behalf.
- Kentucky holds the best interests of the child above the parent’s interests and responsibilities.
- Because House of Boom is a for-profit company, it had to meet a different standard for liability than school districts and others who volunteer their property for recreational use.
The Court noted that pre-injury releases might be valid in some cases, but they should generally be viewed with a good deal of skepticism.
Will this make Kentucky’s trampoline parks any safer?
As the Courier-Journal reported, the rise of trampoline parks has led to a surge in emergency room visits and at least six deaths. Now the Kentucky Supreme Court has sided with 11 other states that have also said parents can’t sign away their children’s rights. Does this mean we will see a greater focus on your children’s safety? Only time will tell. But we know the parks can no longer hide behind waivers that the courts won’t uphold.