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Safety Fears at Trampoline Parks

According to the Associate Press, governmental entities have begun to look at regulating indoor trampoline parks due to the rate and severity of participant injuries. Stephen Merrill was finishing his freshman year of college two years ago when he and a group of friends went to an indoor trampoline park in Utah for a day of flipping, jumping, and bouncing.

At one point, Merrill leaped from a platform into a pit full of foam blocks. The foam blocks did not stop his progress as he struck the bottom breaking a vertebra in his neck, and was left paralyzed from the neck down.

Merrill's injury underscores recent warnings from doctors and government officials about the dangers of the jump gyms amid a heightened effort to regulate the indoor trampoline parks as they have become a popular venue for birthday parties and summer camps.

As per the Associate Press report, some doctors say the parks are dangerous and can lead to serious injuries citing broken necks, shattered leg bones, and one death. Proposed regulations in Utah and California are among the first attempts in the country to address concerns about safety in the industry.

Operators of the trampoline gyms say severe injuries are rare and safety fears are exaggerated.

The parks are typically giant warehouses filled with a series of trampolines that allow customers to bounce every which direction, slam-dunk basketballs, and do gymnastics moves. Some parks feature angled trampolines sloping up the sides and pits filled with brick-size foam blocks. The Associated Press reports that for safety, many of the gyms post staffers around trampolines like lifeguards to enforce rules and require jumpers to first sign a waiver.

Emergency room doctors in one Utah county say that's not enough, and they've asked the health board to step in.

"You'll see a lot of these very severe, open wounds that you don't see unless you're in a high-velocity type of injury," Dr. Craig Cook, trauma director at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. "This is like a war type of injury or a motor vehicle crash."

Trauma staff at the hospital say they saw 52 injuries requiring multiple doctor visits from area jump gyms from May 2011 to November 2012, according to their emergency room records. They say, and have had injuries such as dislocated feet, brain hemorrhaging, and paralysis.

The Utah County Health Board is considering proposals that stipulate gyms must supervise the activities, report their injury rates to the county and warn jumpers about the risks beyond having them sign a waiver.

The Utah proposals are partly modeled after legislation pending in California that would create an inspection program for the parks akin to regulations for amusement park rides, in addition to requirements about insurance, employee training, and injury reporting.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a hazardous condition on the property of another, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584.

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