While at a friend’s house for a barbecue a few weekends ago, I got the joy of doing something I haven’t done in years: jumping on a trampoline. My friends recently bought one for their five-year-old daughter. After numerous times of sweetly asking me if I’d jump with her, I couldn’t resist anymore. Growing up, my neighbors had a trampoline and I loved it. While jumping with my friends’ daughter was much more exhausting than I remembered, it was an absolute blast. And just like the trampoline my neighbors had when I was growing up, my friends’ daughter’s new trampoline proved to be the hit of the neighborhood; kids flock to it.
Aside from the fact that I am no longer the spry child I was many years ago, I was shocked at how different my neighbors’ trampoline growing up was from my friends’ daughter’s trampoline. My neighbors’ trampoline had absolutely no safety features. I can’t tell you the number of times one of us went flying over the edge from too high of a bounce or how many times my leg or arm got stuck between the coils that surrounded the canvas causing bruising and scratches. And while I knew I wasn’t supposed to jump when they weren’t home and without asking permission, my neighbors didn’t have a fence, which meant there was nothing stopping me or any of the neighborhood kids from taking a bounce whenever we felt like it. In contrast, my friends’ daughter’s trampoline is surrounded by an eight-foot net, has padding all along the coils, and their yard is completely fenced in. Even with all of my friends’ safety measures, accidents can happen, especially with kids who seem to be drawn like magnets to potential hazards.
Because children are inherently drawn to trampolines, a trampoline is considered an attractive nuisance. An attractive nuisance is any object, structure, or condition that is both dangerous and irresistibly inviting or intriguing to children. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, there are five conditions that must be met for a land owner to be liable for injuries to children, even if they are trespassing, that occur on their property: 1) The place where the condition exists is one in which the landowner knows that children are likely to trespass; 2) the landowner knows children will be at risk of injury if they trespass; 3) the children are too young to recognize the risk associated with the attractive nuisance; 4) the landowner can fix the problem at a reasonable cost; and 5) the landowner fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate danger or otherwise protect the children.
If you are a trampoline owner, there are steps you can take to not only protect any child that comes on your property, but also to protect yourself from liability. Some of the ways to reduce the likelihood of injury include: allowing only one jumper on a trampoline at a time; using shock absorbing pads that completely cover the springs, hooks and frame; placing the trampoline on a flat surface away from structures, trees and other play areas; not using a ladder, which provides unsupervised access for children; always supervising children while using the trampoline; and preventing falls off the trampoline by using a trampoline enclosure.
Unlike my neighbors when I was growing up, my friends have done a decent job at taking the proper measurements to help prevent injures to their daughter or any other child that wanders onto their property for a bounce. In hindsight, my neighbors were very lucky that the only serious damage that came about from their trampoline was property damage when a storm slammed it into the side of my house.
Children are playful and curious, which can land them in dangerous situations. If you have an attractive nuisance on your property, make sure to take precautions to ensure no child will wind up injured. If you are the parent of a child who is injured due to an attractive nuisance, make sure to find a lawyer you can trust to provide you with the help you deserve.
By: Tatum Tipton