Bouncy castle accident claims - Introduction
Over the last decade, bouncy castle-related accidents involving children have shown a fifteen-fold increase. It is estimated that around 10,000 children are injured every year, 4,000 of them while playing on inflatables in private homes.
43% of all bouncy castle injuries are sustained in fall accidents, often by children bouncing off the inflatable and on to the ground.
Recognised bouncy castle hazards
The operator of a bouncy castle cannot easily take precautions against some of the issues described below, such as children fighting on the inflatable.
In many cases, however, the operator is likely to be responsible for accidents sustained as a result of use of the bouncy castle.
The following hazards have been identified:
- instability and blowing away in windy conditions
- injury to users caused by wearing inappropriate clothes and shoes
- overcrowding or not separating larger users (adults and older children) from smaller children
- injury to users caused by boisterous behaviour
- situations caused by bouncy castles deflating through loss of pressure
- windows tearing or detaching
- tripping over guy ropes or anchorages
- electrical hazards (e.g. electric shock or burns injuries)
- inadequate means of escape in case of fire
- lifting injuries caused by manual handling
- access to dangerous machinery (e.g. inadequately protected, or unguarded air pumps or generators)
If you or a member of your family has been injury as a result of any of the above factors, it may be possible to make a claim.
Equipment risks and applicable legislation
Bouncy castle controllers and operators have obligations under Health and Safety legislation to ensure that both children and adults using their equipment do so with minimum risk.
As a requirement of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, controllers or operators of bouncy castles must carry out a risk assessment of their activities to determine control measures to avoid risk or reduce risk to acceptable levels.
The manufacturer's information and instructions for safe operation should help with this and should be readily available for reference.
The "controller" is defined as the person, organisation or hirer having the overall control - including responsibility for maintenance - of the bouncy castle
An operator is the person (over 18 years) appointed by the controller to be in charge of the operation of the inflatable at any time when it is intended to be available for public use.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and subsequent regulations require all inflatable play equipment "designed to be used by members of the public for entertainment purposes either as a slide or for bouncing upon" to be tested at suitable intervals by a competent person.
In addition, the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) require inflatable devices to be inspected at suitable intervals to ensure that safe conditions are maintained, and that any deterioration in the device is detected and remedial action taken in good time.
Reducing user risks
When a bouncy castle is in use there are other measures that should be checked to ensure it is safe to use.
The castle should be securely anchored to prevent it blowing over. If on hard ground it should have mooring straps attached to solid points.
Impact absorbing mats should be positioned at the open side of the castle and extend sufficiently to prevent children hitting hard ground if they bounce out of the castle.
An inadequate safety equipment claim is likely to succeed if it can be demonstrated that the operator was negligent in this respect.
At least one competent person should be constantly supervising users of the play equipment.
Attendants must be over 16 and appointed to work under the control and direction of an operator to assist in the operation of the inflatable device.
Attendants must also follow maximum load recommendations to prevent children bumping into each other.
Children of different ages or sizes may need to be separated to avoid larger children crushing smaller ones.
Users should be instructed to remove sharp articles of clothing like shoes, buckles and jewellery and this should be enforced.
Attendants should control children to prevent horseplay that could lead to injury; children must also be deterred from climbing the walls.
Hiring a bouncy castle privately
The hire company should provide detailed guidelines on the safe positioning and use of a bouncy castle, including protecting children from electrical equipment.
The person hiring the castle may be required to take responsibility for supervision of children when it is in use.
For more information about claiming for bouncy castle-related injuries at a private event, it is recommended that you speak to a solicitor about your options as soon as possible.
Making a claim for an injury on behalf of a child
A parent or guardian making a claim for compensation on behalf of a child under 18 is referred to as a 'litigation friend'.
The claim may be brought with the assistance of the litigation friend before the child turns 18.
After that date, the Claimant then has 3 years in which to bring a claim themselves.
Guaranteed No Win, No Fee bouncy castle injury claim - Pay nothing if you lose
A no win no fee agreement (also referred to as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) is agreed between the claimant and a PI lawyer.
The CFA is essentially the conditions under which the solicitor acts for the claimant.
The contract sets out what the lawyers will do and how the solicitor will be paid if your legal case is ultimately successful.
If you choose a Quittance solicitor for your bouncy castle injury compensation claim there will be no extra costs in the terms and conditions , no up-front fees and the reassurance that you will not be out of pocket.
How much compensation can I claim for a bouncy castle injury?
The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our personal injury compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.
Accidents involving children case study
£2,300 compensation awarded to child for burn injury View case study