10 Ways to Avoid Lawsuit in Trampoline Park
So you’re thinking about opening a trampoline park. Congratulations! Trampoline parks are the latest and greatest exercise globally today.
Trampoline parks are great in so many ways. Families love an activity they can take everyone to in order to enjoy together. It’s a great moment with family members of all ages. It’s also a great choice for families because it’s a healthy, physical activity.
For these reasons, trampoline parks are bursting at the seams. People book their tickets days and even weeks in advance in order to be able to take their turn in the park. It seems like these businesses can’t grow fast enough to keep up with demand.
Staying Safe and Staying Legal
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to a trampoline park as a business venture is keeping the business out of court. Trampoline parks are a lot of fun because they involve risks. Unfortunately, sometimes, that can mean injuries. Many people hesitate to venture into this kind of business because of the potential legal liabilities involved in a business that necessarily involves risks.
This fear is healthy, but potential legal liability doesn’t have to be scary, either. There are things that you can do to protect yourself from risks in this regard. With a few simple steps, you can reduce your risks of lawsuits and potential legal liability. Some of these steps involve trying to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Still others try to protect you in the event that you do find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Following these steps can give you peace of mind as you start down the path of this exciting business venture.
1. Hire the right people
Keeping your park safe and lawsuit free starts by choosing great people to work with. The people you hire should be trustworthy and dependable. They should be free of any criminal convictions that affect their honesty, such as fraud or theft. Assaultive crimes and convictions are a no, as well.
Showing up to work when they’re scheduled is one of the most important qualities in the employee of a trampoline park. That’s because safety depends on having a staff presence. This helps your guests follow rules and it helps employees have enough eyes and ears in the park to detect problems and rule violations before they lead to injuries.
When you hire, make potential employees aware of what is required on the job. Tell them that it’s going to be their job to enforce rules. Make sure they’re comfortable in a position of authority.
With the right people in place, you can keep your park safe. When employees are dependable and honest, you can have a large employee presence in the park. That leads to customers following rules more often, which in turn results in a smoothly operating park.
2. Create a great waiver and use it
When a person walks in to use a trampoline park, the first thing that they need to do is sign a waiver. This part is so critical that our installation and training team will spend extra time with you to make sure that you have an iron-clad waiver.
A waiver is a legal document that a person signs when they want to take a turn in the trampoline park. Essentially the person is saying that they are giving up, or waiving, legal liability for some things that could happen during the park.
The fancy legal term for this liability is negligence. In the law, you’re financially liability for things that you do that cause another person harm, if you acted negligently. What does it mean to act negligently? That means if you didn’t exercise the amount of care that you should have exercised in that situation.
For example, you’ve set up your trampoline park. You’re supposed to walk around the park each morning before it opens to make sure that all of the mats are secure around the park. For whatever reason this doesn’t happen. Later that day, a patron is hurt when they crash into an open spring on a trampoline. In that situation, the patron could say that you acted negligently by not taking the time to make sure that the safety mats were in place around the park.
When you have your customers sign a negligence waiver before they use the park, they’re giving up their opportunity to sue you in a situation like that. In that event, they can’t sue you for negligent actions or inactions. This waiver is your most important defense when it comes to avoiding trampoline park lawsuits. The waiver should state that the person is giving up the right to sue the trampoline park for any actions, including negligent actions on the part of owners or employees, or for accidents or injuries caused by participation in activities in the park. You might want to consult an attorney to find the perfect waiver for your business, based on state laws.
One more important thing to remember in this context is that you must have the parent or legal guardian sign the waiver. An older sibling can’t sign a waiver for a younger sibling. Grandparents can’t sign for grandchildren. A friend’s parent can’t sign for a child, either. The only person who can sign a waiver is the person with legal authority to do so. That means a person over 18 or a minor’s parent or legal guardian, no exceptions.
3. Train your employees properly
Once you have great people in place, the next step to avoiding legal liability and trampoline park lawsuits is to make sure that you’re properly training employees. Your employees are kind of like the lifeguards in the pool that is your trampoline park. You can avoid a lot of injuries in the first place by teaching employees what to do each day on the job.
Employees should be taught how to properly set up and take down equipment. If employees are taught how to properly care for equipment, this can prevent a lot of injuries before they start. It also prevents the types of injuries that are preventable when employees exercise due diligence.
You also need to take the time to teach your employees the rules of the park. This is where the lifeguard concept comes in. Your employees can prevent a lot of injuries simply by enforcing the rules in the park. If they see a group of people jumping on the same trampoline at the same time, they can tell the group to stop before someone gets hurt. If they see someone attempting a skill they’re unable to do safely, they can tell the person to stop before it goes any further. Stopping bad behavior in its tracks can prevent a lot of problems, injuries and lawsuits.
Taking the time to properly train employees can not only teach your people what to do to prevent injuries, but it can also give them the motivation to take their job seriously. When employees know why they need to do what they’re supposed to do, they’re more likely to take their job seriously. This can make things run smoothly in your park and ultimately lead to a fun and safe environment for both you and your customers.
4. However, stay vigilant
Just having patrons sign a waiver isn’t enough in and of itself to avoid lawsuits. You also have to do your part to keep your park safe. There are some exceptions to the negligence theories of liability, and you need to take steps to prevent lawsuits based on these other things.
One other way park owners can get sued is by the open and obvious doctrine. That means that if you have a danger in your park that is so apparent and obvious that you certainly must have known about the danger and you have not taken any steps to correct it, you can still find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit, waivers or not. You can also still face liability for things that you do intentionally, if they hurt someone else.
For this reason, have patrons sign the waiver, but also run routine safety checks at your facility. Make sure that you and your employees are following safety protocols at all time. Take time to look for dangers on your property, whether they are in the park itself or in your waiting area or parking lot.
5. Set up your park
The good news is that trampoline parks are more popular in the United States than ever. That means there are recommendations and expectations for you to follow when you set up your park. Trampolines all need to be prepared and maintained to ASTM standards. ASTM International is a worldwide corporation that creates guidelines for all kinds of industries. Many of the industries include entertainment companies such as amusement parks and trampoline parks.
Because the guidelines operate based on consensus among industry leaders, you’re pretty safe following them. You can explain to any court that the ASTM standards are the agreed-upon rules for industry operation, worldwide. This puts you in great company when it’s time to defend your practices. The group that creates the standards consults experts and other industry leaders when they make recommendations. The name ASTM stands for American Society for Testing and Materials, and the group has been in business for more than a century.
6. Inform your customers
Once you’ve got insurance in place, hired great employees and created policies and procedures for setting up and maintaining the park, it’s time to think about your customers. There are even things that you can do as far as your customers go to avoid injuries and legal liability. These things aren’t hard to do.
The first step is to educate the customers on the rules. Customers should have to sit through a demonstration of the rules before they’re allowed to enter the park. Rules should include not sharing trampolines and not shoving other customers. You should also instruct customers that they are to follow any directions from employees at all times.
Even after your customers are told the lay of the land, there are other things that you can do to help them make good choices. Place signs listing the rules in several places around the park. These can be at entrance and exit points so that customers can’t help but see them as they move in and out of the park. Customers are empowered to follow the rules when they are taught in a safety sessions and then their learning is reinforced with signs.
7. Maintain insurance
Another thing that can help you stop lawsuits is having great insurance. This can help you defend yourself in the event that you’re sued and it can also pay the cost of any damages in the event that you have to pay a settlement or judgment. This can give you a lot of peace of mind as you open your doors each day.
Having proper insurance is invaluable to your business efforts. An expert can help you evaluate your company and figure out what insurance you need. Making sure the insurance covers legal defense costs as well as liability can even save you the cost of paying for an attorney in the event that someone files a lawsuit.
8. Use cameras
In-house cameras today are inexpensive, but they can be crucial to protecting yourself. So many lawsuits in this day and age are frivolous. With cameras, it’s easy to go back and look at exactly what happened. When you use cameras, you avoid any disagreements about what happened and customers aren’t able to stretch the truth.
This can make litigation much shorter in both duration and intensity. The camera tells the story about what happened. What shows on video is hard to dispute. This can help you avoid frivolous lawsuits so that you can focus on providing a great experience for your customers.
9. Keep records
Documentation is another key when it comes to successfully running a trampoline park. Maintain records of all liability waivers. You should keep these records for years, until long after the statute of limitations has run for your jurisdiction for any trampoline park lawsuits. You should also hang on to video from activities of your business, especially on days with reported injuries.
Written records of reported incidents and days where injuries occur are also important to maintain. Keep detailed records of employee work hours so that you know who was at work if any issues arrive in the days or weeks to come. You never know what records might be the most important later, so keep it all for now.
10. Don’t worry
Although it might seem overwhelming to avoid injuries and legal liability in a trampoline park, rest assured that following these steps can help you avoid liability and defend yourself in the event of a lawsuit. Trampoline parks are fun, and most customers are only looking for a fun day of family activity and exercise. Making procedures and enforcing rules can help this happen. A sound insurance policy can also give you peace of mind. Have your customers sign waivers before they begin, and enjoy the experience as you jump into this new business venture.