Personal Injury Attorneys of Lederer & Nojima Warn of the Dangers Posed by Inflatable Bounce Houses and Similar "Toys"

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The Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at Lederer & Nojima LLP have been representing injured children for more than a decade. They have recently been alarmed at the increase in injuries involving portable bounce houses and similar inflatable equipment, and, according to recent media reports, their concerns are well-founded.

By putting pressure on insurance companies to pay maximum compensation to the families of injured children, our hope is that increased attention will be paid to bounce-house hazards and that families will be fairly compensated for their losses

Los Angeles Attorneys John Nojima and David Lederer of Lederer & Nojima have seen a number of cases involving inflatable bounce-house injuries in which party hosts, staff, or other adult supervisors failed in their duty to keep children safe. Throughout the nation, inflatable bounce houses, inflatable slides and similar equipment have become ubiquitous. Along with their popularity comes an increased threat of serious injury.

In Kathy Steinmetz's "Bounce House Injuries Become an ‘Epidemic’" published in TIME Magazine on June 2, 2014 she reports that there are at least 11,000 such injuries each year to children. The number of these injuries has been increasing as portable bounce houses, slides, and similar amusement equipment have become commonplace at backyard birthday parties, community festivals and a wide variety of events. Steinmetz mentions two high-profile incidents that occurred this year in Colorado and New York. Children were injured after large inflatables became detached from the ground by strong gusts of wind.

Attorney David Lederer says, "It is very surprising that no one was killed in any of these incidents. In New York, those toddlers were literally flown up into the sky and dropped to the ground. The news video footage is particularly disturbing as the kids are, what looks like, hundreds of feet in the air. Whoever allowed that to happen should be held accountable whether it is adult supervisors, the company that set-up the bounce house, the manufacturer or other responsible parties." The examples that Steinmetz reports on did not result in any wrongful deaths but Lederer warns that it is only a matter of time before a child is killed while playing in one of these inflatables.

The Colorado incident involved a giant inflatable slide. It rolled violently along a sports field when wind pulled the anchor stakes from the ground. In the Washington Post story describing the incident, "Another bounce house goes airborne, leaving 2 children injured" from June 2, 2014, journalist Abby Philip writes that a "boy appeared to be trapped in the slide and was carried hundreds of feet across the field." In video footage accompanying the article, on-lookers can be seen helplessly chasing the massive slide. Had any children been buried under the deflated slide, serious injury or even suffocation would have been distinct possibilities.

"Though no one was seriously injured in the Colorado example, it is a reminder of the dangers that these pieces of equipment pose," Nojima argues. "Many adults set them up at their homes or at public parks and have no training or education about how to keep children safe in them. And these injuries are not uncommon. If they were, we may not be trying to draw so much attention to the issue. But these things are happening regularly and something must be done to improve safety standards."

In 2012, researchers from the Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Children's Hospital reported that the number of injuries related to inflatable bounce houses and similar equipment rose 1,500% between 1995 and 2010 ("New Study Finds Alarming 15-fold Increase in Inflatable Bouncer-Related Injuries Among Children"). And, Nojima says, "there really are no national guidelines in place that regulate the use of these devices. Someone can buy one off the shelf or online, set it up in the backyard and children can be bouncing almost immediately. The operator needs no training and may have no experience at all with these products. Bounce houses may become overcrowded, toddlers and teens may be jumping together raising the risk of injury to small children. The stakes may not be appropriately anchored. The list just goes on and on for the risks involved with these 'toys.'"

Lederer adds that "Lederer & Nojima will hold negligent parties accountable for injuries to children in bounce houses. Even if national guidelines are implemented, as they should be, injuries will probably still occur but, hopefully, with far less frequency." He concludes by asserting the need for change at the legislative level: "By putting pressure on insurance companies to pay maximum compensation to the families of injured children, our hope is that increased attention will be paid to bounce-house hazards and that families will be fairly compensated for their losses. But, through litigation and advocacy, we hope to affect change at the highest levels."

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John Nojima
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