Regulators in Utah and California, facing a rash of severe injuries such as broken necks, shattered limbs, dislocated feet, and brain hemorrhaging, are considering regulating so called “jump parks,” otherwise known as indoor trampoline facilities. Injuries have resulted in several jumpers being paralyzed and at least one death. Some doctors who have treated the injuries are on-board with regulating the industry because in their view, the seriousness of the potential injuries far outweigh any benefit that may be derived from the exercise. One Utah hospital trauma center logged 52 injuries requiring multiple doctor visits in one 18-month period.
Jump gyms are typically located in large indoor spaces, such as warehouses, that are filled with trampolines that allow for unrestrained jumping, gymnastic moves and dunking of basketballs. Some also feature sloped trampolines and landing pits filled with foam blocks or other soft landing surfaces. Current records show that what started as a few jump gyms scattered across the Western U.S., has grown to about 160 gyms across the globe.
Typical safety measures at the gyms include staffers on hand to enforce rules, but most gyms also require participants to sign a release protecting them from liability for injuries. Regulators are considering measures that require all jump activities be supervised, require all injuries be reported to county health departments, and require specific warnings of the risks of jumping. Other measures being considered include the development of gym inspection programs, requiring employee training, requiring that the gyms maintain insurance, and requiring jumpers to watch a safety video before being allowed to jump.
For their part, jump gym owners claim that their injury rates are lower than those found in organized sports and that they simply offer a fun way for jumpers to get exercise. While claims that most jumpers leave injury free may be true, the number of serious injuries that have occurred seems like too high a price to pay for a currently unregulated activity.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.