It was a sunny Monday in Fort Lauderdale when a bounce house disaster brought a Memorial Day holiday event to an abrupt halt. According to reporters from CNN, the bounce house was lifted high in the air by a whirling column of air and mist. Three children were ejected from the inflatable house into the sand before it was carried over palm trees, four lanes of traffic, and a parking lot.
Although the children reportedly fell out before the bounce house got very high, all three suffered injuries and were rushed to the hospital. Two of the children received fractures, while a third was even more seriously injured.
How did this happen? The bounce house had been secured to a basketball court, but safety measures were insufficient to hold it down when the waterspout snapped one of the concrete basketball poles. The bounce house was provided as a part of a city-sponsored Memorial Day event by All Star Events.
Both the city of Fort Lauderdale and All Star Events may face legal action. According to the personal injury claim on behalf of one of the children:
“Due to the setup of the bounce house itself, the lack of the requisite level of supervision at the bounce house’s location, as well as the inclement weather conditions… the City of Fort Lauderdale acted with gross negligence…The negligent actions and/or inactions of the City of Fort Lauderdale directly caused physical and mental trauma.”
Fort Lauderdale Incident Raises Concern over Safety of Bounce Houses
Unfortunately, the Fort Lauderdale incident is not as unusual as you might think. Over the past two decades, the number of reported bounce house injuries treated in emergency rooms across the US has skyrocketed. According to the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, an average of 30 children a day are injured in bounce house accidents around the country—roughly one child every 45 minutes.
Of the nearly 65,000 children who suffered bounce house injuries over the last 20 years, more than half were between the ages of six and 12, and more than a third were under the age of five. The most common injuries sustained were arm and leg injuries. Children under the age of five were more likely to suffer fractures, while older children often suffered sprains and strains. Nearly one in five children sustained serious neck and head injuries.
If you are a parent, it’s important to take important safety precautions to prevent injuries when your children play in inflatable bounce houses. Below, we’ve listed some key tips for avoiding mishaps:
- Ensure the bounce house is safely secured to the ground
- Place bounce houses away from power lines and trees
- Never use a bounce house when winds are above 20 miles per hour
- Do not allow children younger than six years old to use bounce houses
- Ensure all children inside the bounce house are of a similar size and weight
- Supervise all children closely, and only allow youngsters to use the bounce house when an adult is present
- Do not permit horseplay, tumbling, or flips
Although the recent Fort Lauderdale bounce house incident was tragic, there are some important lessons we can learn from the accident. First and foremost, it is vital to secure bounce houses safely and enforce stringent safety rules to prevent serious injuries among children. In addition, it is also important to hold irresponsible parties accountable for bounce house injuries in order to prevent such tragedies from repeating themselves.
If your child has been injured in a bounce house-related accident, contact a Florida personal injury lawyer with experience in child injuries. With the help of your attorney, you can obtain compensation for medical bills and other recovery costs, while raising awareness of the harm bounce houses can cause if not used appropriately.
About the Author: A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 Avvo Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the last four consecutive years (2011-2014). Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.