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Premises liability: Bounce house injury rates have skyrocketed

Bounce houses have become a staple at children's birthday celebrations, block parties and other family-friendly events. At least partly as a result of their growth, the injury rates for bounce houses have jumped sky high. A recent study found that there were 15 times as many injuries to children on bounce houses in 2010 as there were in 1995. More striking: Between 2008 and 2010, the number of these injuries doubled.

A pediatrician who specializes in child injuries says that the injury rates are due in part to increased use. Researchers have not found other reasons for the bounce house injury increases. The increase in use may be due to falling bounce house costs and rising numbers of eager business owners. Lower prices on bounce houses mean more people can enter the bounce house rental business.

But not all bounce houses are the same. Some of the cheaper bounce houses are mass-produced units that are more prone to failing that commercial units, an official with a bounce house training organization says.

The increase in injuries is likely to be of concern to parents of small children as well as property owners who could be held responsible in premises liability lawsuits for injuries that children receive on their property. The inflatable toys are fun for kids, but they are not places where children should be left unattended.

Experts recommend that people who rent bounce houses make sure that the rental company is insured and that its workers have been trained. That can be more difficult in Illinois, which does not have as many bounce house regulations as some states do. In addition, operators and parents should not allow too many children in a bounce house and make sure that jumpers are of similar ages.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Experts: Bounce house injuries soaring," Rachel Levy, April 17, 2013

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