Updated on: 7/18/2023
Inflatable bouncers- also known as bounce houses, space walks and bouncy castles- are a highly popular product at events, often involving children. They are loved by kids and adults alike for the variety of activities they provide, like rock climbing, obstacle courses, slides and more.
However, the fun does not come without risk. Injuries from users of inflatable bouncers are unfortunately all too common. The injury rates are extremely troubling, and because these products are so popular around events like birthday parties, a large number of children are potentially put at risk of injury every day in the U.S.
It is important to know the risks these inflatables are associated with and where liability falls in the event that someone is injured while using one.
Risk of Injury in a Bounce House
According to a report published in “Pediatrics,” the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the number of child injuries related to inflatable bouncers increased from 702 in 1995 to 11,311 in 2010. That’s a sixteen-fold jump in the number of injuries related to these increasingly popular toys.
According to the report, an estimated 30 children were treated for inflatable bouncer-related injuries in emergency rooms in the U.S. every day in 2010. Of all the children under the age of 18 who were injured, 28 percent were treated at U.S. hospitals for bone fractures, while 27 percent were treated for sprains and strains.
Fortunately, most of the injuries we’re talking about aren’t seriously debilitating or life-threatening; the study says only 19 percent of the children injured in these cases were treated for head or neck injuries. However, that is still a one-in-five rate of head or neck child injuries from inflatable bouncers, and many would argue that is much too high.
And while the injuries reported may not be overwhelmingly serious, some experts are concerned about the ages of the majority of children who have been injured. According to the report, more than half of the child injuries were reported in children between six and 12 years of age, while more than one-third were under the age of five.
Who is Liable for Injuries in a Bouncy House
As with most areas of personal injury, liability is directly related to ownership. In the event that someone is injured while jumping in a bouncy house, the first place liabilty would fall is the homeowner. However, if the bounce house was rented from a third party and they were responsible for the setup, then the liabilty could fall on that company.
Rental companies are responsible for ensuring the bounce house is in full working condition with no tears or holes in the material of the inflatable. They must also ensure that the inflatable is properly secured and weighted down. If they were negligent in the maintenance of their product, or in the setup, there would be serious implications in the event that someone was hurt while using the inflatable.
Liability for injury in a bounce house may get complicated if it came from improper use. A rental company may not be required to train or supervise. If someone was supposed to be monitoring the capacity, but was negligent in doing so, and that resulted in the bounce house collapsing or tipping, then the liability for any injuries would likely not fall on the rental company.
It is always best to consult an attorney following any injuries because they are experts at sorting out liabilty and finding the proper insurance policy on which to make a claim.
10 Tips for Bounce House Safety
- Supervise. Watch your kids closely.
- Make sure the rental company that you hire is insured.
- Assure that the unit is properly weighted down to the ground – double or triple check!
- The unit must be properly inflated, with no rips or holes.
- The operator must cover all operating and safety procedures verbally as well as displaying printed instructions.
- Make sure there is no part of the house sagging so that the children do not trip.
- Do not let too many children in the house at once.
- Do not let tired or grumpy children in the house. This could be a recipe for disaster.
- Put children in the house with the same size children.
- Turn of the unit when the weather does not permit its use.