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ARE TRAMPOLINE PARKS UNNECESSARILY DANGEROUS?

Trampoline parks have become a billion-dollar industry. They provide year-round family fun and exercise. Most people come away from their visit exhausted and exhilarated. Some, unfortunately, suffer serious and even fatal injuries.

Jumping on any trampoline can be dangerous. However, in trampoline parks, multiple trampolines are connected by chain links or steel cables. With multiple people of varying sizes and weights jumping on this interconnected equipment simultaneously, the resulting waves of energy create "double bounces."

These can result in serious falls and other incidents. As one former gymnastics coach notes, the people on the trampolines are "moving at speeds and with energy that when they hit or get hit by somebody else that's twice their weight, they end up with crush injuries."

The former coach, who is sometimes called as an expert witness in civil cases against these parks, says, "Everyone in the gymnastic community calls them death parks."

While that may be an overly grim assessment, a recent report by CBS News found that at least six people have suffered fatal injuries in trampoline parks since 2012. The real number could be higher if some of the plaintiffs had to settle their cases in arbitration and sign confidentiality agreements.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the number of people treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered at trampoline parks rose from 2,500 to nearly 18,000 between 2013 and 2017. Even nonfatal trampoline injuries can be catastrophic -- like broken backs and necks. Some people break or dislocate bones.

The former coach blames the design of these parks -- with trampolines not only interconnected but placed up against walls with only thin padding. Foam pits next to the equipment are often too shallow, he says. He also blames a lack of supervision.

The International Association of Trampoline Parks acknowledges, "There are parks that do not adhere to industry technical standards, and do not operate with safety at the forefront of their agendas." The group says it's working to require inspections of the facilities. State laws vary, and the federal government currently has no oversight of these parks.

If you take your family to a trampoline park, it's essential to carefully read any liability waiver or other document presented to you before you sign it and to keep a copy of it. If you or a loved one suffers an injury, it's wise to explore your legal options.