questionsshould we contact a lawyer, or is this a case of…

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2) Our SkyZone is supposed to have an area just for small folks to jump, but it was closed. If it was open, my 4yo would have been jumping there. But, they were understaffed, so they had it closed.

3) So, with the "main area" as the only place to jump, it was very crowded, and 4yo's were jumping alongside of adults and teenagers, and almost every trampoline square was full. It was this reason my kid broke his leg: He was trying to get to an open square, stepped on one used by a teenager, and the force of the teen jumping cracked his leg.

4) As soon as he was hurt, they quickly opened the "little kids" area and started staffing it. This seems to me that they knew that contributed to the injury.

So... should we talk to a lawyer? Do I just suck it in and say that we took the risk and lost? I don't want to be one of "those people" who sue at the drop of the hat, but they seem to be at least partly at fault here.

They didn't even offer to refund his $10 admission, or a coupo

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I should add, my kid has been in a cast and will be for another week or so. At that point he might be in a leg brace for a few more weeks. All of this costs money, and he's missing out on spring.

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You have to prove neglience and that can be hard.
Have you contacted them about paying the medical bills, they should have insurance in place for this kind of thing.

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do a free consultation with an attorney won't hurt, but don't hold your breath either.

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Here is a copy of one of the agreements signed (or something similar):

http://desmoines.skyzonesports.com/Portals/41/Sky%20Zone%20Des%20Moines%20Waiver%20Form.pdf.pdf

It notes that participation is voluntary, despite any risks. Also says that you have sufficient insurance to cover all medical bills if needed, and this:

I hereby voluntarily release, forever discharge, and agree to indemnify and hold harmless SZRC from any and all claims, demands, or causes of action, which are in any way connected with my participation in SZRC activities or my use of SZRC's equipment or facilities , whether caused by the negligence of SZRC or otherwise.

I'm not sure if you have any legal course, but if there is no other option it is still probably something to look into. Sorry about the situation, I feel for you.

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@lichme: I know the waiver says that. Just because it says it doesn't make it true, though. I know plenty of cases where people signed a waiver and still had a course of action.

I do appreciate the advice, though. I figured I'd run it by the DW community before deciding if it's worth talking to a lawyer.

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Stuff Happens. What are the real damages to you? Has this affected your life enough to go through months or years of litigation?

The only thing you are likely to get is some compensation for your medical costs and possibly a little pain and suffering. Assuming you have health insurance, your out of pocket costs are relatively small. A 4 year old with a broken leg is bad, but it doesn't seem like it would get you much in the way of pain and suffering.

I don't mean to seem callous, but this seems more like bad luck than "wrong-doing" or negligence on the part of the business. Maybe they shouldn't have sold a ticket to you for your 4 year old, but it sounds like you were aware that the area your kid was in may not have been age appropriate.

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the question is, should they have ever allowed a 4 year old into the "main area". are there any age/height restrictions for the main area? if there are and they still allowed your 4 year old in, you may have a case.

i do however agree with another poster above who suggested to talking to them first to see if they will cover part/all of the medical expenses before bringing an attorney into it. sometimes, you'll get better results with less hassle. for example, i was eating at a restaurant when a diner chipped his tooth on a small stone that was in the food. even though the diner didn't seem perturbed, the owner was very adamant about paying any dental bills.

edit: also, i'm pretty sure a company can't indemnify itself against its own negligence. let's say you're skydiving, but the company you go through fails to do routine, required maintenance on the parachutes. pretty sure they can't just tell you you're SOL.

note: i am not a lawyer nor do i play one on tv.

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@wnyx585am: I'm not trying to get rich. Having our share of the medical bills paid would be the main thing. At this point I'm not even sure what "our share" would be, as things take forever to work through the billing/insurance bureaucracy.

What does kind of torque me off though is that despite the waiver, they lead you to believe this is relatively safe. They told us that it was really unusual when it happened. Since that time we've heard from several people who work in hospitals, ER's, etc and said that they hate skyzone because of all the injuries they see.

Would I go back? Probably - in a few years. I think 4yo is definitely too young. But I didn't know that before going in last time.

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@carl669: the question is, should they have ever allowed a 4 year old into the "main area"

I don't think there are such restrictions. He definitely wasn't the only one in there, just the unlucky one I guess.

I also like the idea of contacting them first before getting lawyers involved. But I don't want to limit our rights either, so I thought I'd see if anyone here has any experience with this sort of thing.

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It's just a bad break unfortunately, sorry, too soon? @wnyx585am makes a good point that you knew he wouldn't be jumping in the kids area when you bought the ticket. If you didn't know before you bought the ticket you should have immediately requested a refund for him and not let him participate but when you let him bounce in the main area you accepted the risk and they are covered by the waiver. They probably should have been aware of the situation but responsibility is a two way street.

I would go back and CALMLY explain the situation to a manager, no threats. Don't demand things but ask if there is anything s/he or the company can do and see what you can get. Maybe nothing, maybe a refund and some free passes, maybe more. Legally they don't owe you anything so you have to go into it with that in mind.

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@apocello42:
>>>It's just a bad break unfortunately, sorry, too soon? @wnyx585am makes a good point that you knew he wouldn't be jumping in the kids area when you bought the ticket. If you didn't know before you bought the ticket you should have immediately requested a refund for him and not let him participate but when you let him bounce in the main area you accepted the risk and they are covered by the waiver.
<<<

Actually we had no idea. We pre-paid (through the church) several weeks before going. And we weren't informed of this upon signing in there either.

Yes, we did allow him to jump in the main area, but we had no idea that this was risky - since that time I've done a lot of reading on the internet about how risky it is to have two vastly different sized people on the same trampoline. I wouldn't have allowed it going in knowing that in advance. They, on the other hand, could (should?) have warned us that this was risky.

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I respectfully disagree with the advice to contact the company first. If a manager had gotten your information and shown concern at the time of the incident that might be different.

I (thankfully) don't have a lot of experience with legal matters, but one lesson I learned the hard way is that if you start big you can always back off; But if you start small and they circle the wagons, it can be hard to ramp up later.

So I'd talk to an attorney before contacting the company just so you know what your options are. That doesn't mean that you're going to sue, even if that is an option (which it may not be). But, again, I think you should know your options from the start.

You can't know what their reaction is going to be when you go back to them. The manager might put protecting his job above doing the right - and legal - thing. If you "show your hand" too early it might give them a chance to make it look like you were the one at fault.

Blah blah normal IANAL disclaimers blah.

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@tsfisch: If you ask them to pay for the medical bills (which is certainly reasonable on your part), you will have to limit your rights. No company is going to pay your bills without some sort of waiver of future legal recourse. Once they pay you for anything, they are admitting wrong (in the eyes of an attorney). They won't want to admit being wrong unless they know you won't sue them for it.

Assuming they would reimburse you, if you truly just want the basic medical costs covered, I don't see why you would be worried about limiting your rights. The only thing I could understand is if you felt your child could have some extended, long-term effects from the injury that you might not know about and have expenses for in the future. I certainly hope it's not anything more serious than a basic broken bone.

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@anotherhiggins:
>>>I respectfully disagree with the advice to contact the company first. If a manager had gotten your information and shown concern at the time of the incident that would be different.
>>>

They had us fill out an accident report, and said they would contact us in a few days. They didn't. And at the time of that report, we didn't know he had a broken leg, so we didn't make that big of a deal out of it. It wasn't until the next morning, when he refused to even try to get out of bed, that we had him in for x-rays and they discovered the break.

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I've heard nothing but bad things about kids getting hurt at these trampoline places. A 13 year old girl fractured her neck at the Xtreme Trampolines out by me. I honestly don't see how these places are still open. I don't have any legal advice to offer, but I do hope your little one heals quickly.

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@tsfisch: I think the fact that you have to sign a waiver should warn you that it's risky. I don't think it should be up to other people to tell us everything and warn us that everything could possibility hurt us.

Again I would probably just pay the manager a civil visit. Getting the lawyers involved will probably end up costing you more money. If you're unsure enough to seek legal advice on D.W! then I suspect the chances of getting nothing but a huge legal bill out of a lawsuit is a very real possibility. Besides the tough chore of proving negligence you're also going to have to prove that the injury was caused by that negligence. The chances of a bone actually breaking just due to someone else bouncing on the mat is very low. You'll have to prove that his leg wasn't already in a weakened state and the fact that he didn't realize it was broken until later doesn't help. They may argue that by not seeking immediate medical attention the injury was aggravated beyond the original injury

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It's slimy and unfortunate but these companies have lawyers just waiting for cases like this because they know there will be some. If you can get a truly no strings attach consultation, then I can understand doing that first, if not stay away from the sharks.

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@tsfisch: So what you're saying is that they had a bunch of prepaid purchases that they KNEW were coming that day, and they didn't staff the place properly. That really falls on them. The fact that they told you they are understaffed and kept operating could be considered negligence alone, honestly.

I think given the situation, they should have offered a refund before this happened.

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@tsfisch: From what I've read it sounds like the local branch may have (that's pure speculation) been breaking company policy by putting little kids in with adults. If so, then the franchisee might be on the hook.

Again, I'd advise knowing your options before talking to them.

Knowing can't do any harm. Not knowing can.

I definitely agree that you should be calm and polite when discussing it with the company. But you should know your rights ahead of time in case they get belligerently defensive.

The 1 time I needed a lawyer I was able to retain a great firm pro bono. That's probably not an option for you.

Your original question is whether you should talk to a lawyer. I assume you're worried about the expense. I'd start with a fee consult. Be aware that the "injury firms" that do this skew sleazy, but they should be able to tell you your rights. You're not obligated to move forward if the company is willing to do what they should (you'll find out what that is from an attorney).

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I haven't read everyone's comments but wanted to bring up the fact that if you do sue and win some money, your insurance will want reimbursement for everything that has been covered by them first. So, you may just end up reimbursing the insurance company after spending a lot of hours meeting with lawyers, court dates, etc.

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@jumbowoot: there is a new "subscribe" feature on deals.woot now, you don't even have to make a post ;)
to subscribe to this question, click the subscribe link up at the top, right next to the tattle link in the question description

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I put the responsibility for the safety of kids on parents first and businesses last. You saw that the area for little kids was closed. You let your little kid participate. At any point you could have said, "I don't feel this is safe" and removed him from the situation. Presumably, you didn't think it was unsafe till after the child was hurt. Unless there is a pattern of children getting hurt at this business, you'd have a very hard sell to me as a judge or juror that this is the fault of the business, that they had a greater duty to protect your child than you did. I know it sounds like I am blaming you but I am not, I am saying that it sounds like it was an accident, and accidents happen. I was just at a child crisis center that's been forced to pull out all its playground equipment due to rigorous safety regulations (sand is too hard). Now the kids have no place to play. When I was a kid, scraped knees and even the occasional broken bone were just a part of growing up.

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I would go talk to a lawyer. If nothing else, if you end up taking them to court, it may motivate the company to put in place rules that would prevent this happening to other kids. There are a lot of companies out there that won't do something until it costs them money.

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So if YOU allow your kid to play on the freeway, are you going to sue the highway department if he gets hit by a car?

You are the parent, that is supposed to mean that you are the one that is there to keep him safe. You failed in your duties more than the company did in theirs.

JMO

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I would approach the manager before retaining a lawyer. The moment a lawyer approaches a big company on your behalf, they get very defensive and it can be the start of a huge headache.

Not to mention, most personal injury lawyers work on commission, and if you're not seeking lots of damages there's not a huge benefit for them. There will be a lot of pressure to ramp up the amount of money you are seeking.

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@moondrake: I do understand what you're saying. If he fell off the swing at the park, that's just bad luck. If he had bounced on the trampoline for 30 minutes, then had a freak collision with another person - bad luck. But here was literally in there for 5 minutes, and was walking to try to find a less crowded spot. I suppose I'm just pissed that something so casual can cause such injury.

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you're the parent, you made the decision, now live with it.
Kids get hurt, they get broken bones. If you hire a lawyer over this you officially join the "what is wring with America" club. Hiring a lawyer over this is the exact reason places like this shut down or have to charge everyone else more money to pay higher insurance rates. So in effect, if you sue, you're making the rest of us pay for it.

If you can't afford a few hundred in medical bills, you shouldn't have been able to afford to take your kids there in the first place, your priorities would be way off!

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No one here (as far as I can tell) is a lawyer, and therefore no matter how well-intentioned, the advice is worth pretty much what you're paying for it. Call up a personal-injury lawyer, ask how much they charge for a consultation (many don't charge anything at all), and get an official opinion. The likelihood is that a letter from them will result in a settlement offer, since no one really wants to go to court over something that can be resolved more easily with a bit of negotiation.

(For what it's worth, I broke my leg falling down the stairs of our vacation rental cabin last year. Didn't bother telling the cabin owner, since the fall was the result of a minor disability of my own amplified by my dogs jerking on their leashes. My medical care was fully covered, and my AFLAC policy payout was almost exactly what I lost in salary with six weeks of not being able to go to work. In other words, I empathize with you.)

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@tsfisch: Like @ruger9mm said: "You have to prove [negligence]..." Yes, waivers aren't worth much in court. But they are a good defense in showing that the participates are aware of the dangers. To show negligence, you will need to prove that A. they were too understaffed for the amount of "jumpers" B. Prove that 4 year olds shouldn't be with the older kids/adults, if not, prove that you asked for the little kid area to be opened up and it wasn't opened.

To me, it doesn't seem worth it to get a lawyer, the time and expense isn't worth it. The lawyer will just get most of the money. But do continue to speak with the facility and possibly the corporate offices, and hopefully they will be able to do something.

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Just to comment on other posts stating that you will just incur legal fees by speaking to a lawyer: If you are the plaintiff (person suing) you should not incur legal fees if a settlement/award is not issued. If you speak with a lawyer who wants an hourly rate established for bringing forward litigation look for another option. Prosecution should work on a contingent fee structure only receiving payment for a favorable result not establish a billable rate. Most lawyers take a percentage of total award, which commonly is 1/3. It is up to the lawyer to decide if they see the incident will bring forth a favorable result - if not they will pass on the case.

Defense attorneys on the other hand will want a set rate for the time they work as there is no payout to be reached at the end the result either positive or negative for their client.

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I was injured once at the fault(at least I thought so) of someone else. I talked to a lawyer free of charge and asked his advice. In the end, my bills were paid by the insurance of the party at fault and they never had to know that I talked with a lawyer about the matter.

My point, talk to someone who has experience in such matters. Get some good advice and if you never need that lawyers help again, they never have you know about it.

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@kamikazeken: And let's disregard the fact that every trampoline sold for back yard use includes instructions that specifically say "one at a time" and that two jumpers on a tramp is an accident waiting to happen, with the smaller jumper usually the one going to the hospital. Find the idiot who came up with the idea of using trampolines as "mass market multi-user entertainment devices" and you'll be looking at a bottom 1/3 graduating class business student who never took a single physics survey class in his (her) life.

Recommend OP consult trained legal counsel. Shut 'em down before they break somebody's neck.

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@aphroat: I'm not looking to shut anyone down. I'm not looking to get rich.

I also don't think it's fair to compare this to letting my kid play on the freeway. I don't think most people bringing their kid to that place would do so if they really thought that simply walking to another trampoline square would result in their kid having to be in a cast for 4+ weeks. I understood there were risks. I thought those risks had to do with people banging into each other, doing flips, etc. Possibly a freak chipped tooth. Didn't think simply walking across the mat in the first 5 minutes would injure my kid.

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And to the "but you signed a waiver" crowd- you have to sign a waiver for just about anything these days. Snow tubing? A waiver. Hell, I took the kids on a "leaf-viewing" expedition last fall - ride a ski-lift to the top of the hill and see the fall colors. Guess what? We signed a waiver. If the chair-lift came crashing to the ground, would you say "you signed a waiver, you knew the risks?"

I do thank everyone for the advice. Interesting to see the range of answers, anything from "yes this is their fault" to "holy s* you're a bad parent". Not sure where I'll take it from here but I do appreciate everyone's time.

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@tsfisch: I hate to add to your worries, but you might want to have your pediatric orthopedist take a second look at the X-rays to evaluate your child's bone density. If the child broke the leg simply by bouncing rather than having another child land on it, it might be worth doing.
While it's not the best way, it's cheaper than having dual x-ray asborptiometery done. Too many children these days have unnaturally low levels of Vitamin D, whether it is from a lack of sun or constant use of sun screen, low activity levels, or due to the diet of a fussy eater. It can all contribute to less dense bones and should be considered if there is another relatively low-impact fracture in the future.

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Trampolines can be dangerous -ask your insurance agent about them. I've found Skyzone near me to be generally a safe place, and when I've been there, their people sit out anyone who's acting wrecklessly. If I was an attorney, I wouldn't want to take this on-in many areas you'd only be able to get actual damages without a lot of legal work-and 33% of a few thousand isn't much. I even had a car accident, other driver hit me almost head-on, overnight in the hospital, and attorneys in my county said it wasn't worth their time. (Disclamier-fine print-the proceeding is not legal advice-I am not a lawyer)

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Hate to say it, but this sounds like "stuff happens". I hope your son will be fine soon.

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I'm pretty nervous about that place now.. I got two of that deal last week (via Groupon) which was 50% off so for $14, works for two people for an hour each.

Was thinking about going to that place around next week for spring break with my sisters friends (middle schoolers).

I myself is really prone to injuries.. so now I'm debating on wether or not I keep the coupons or use it (on an empty day).

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@tsfisch: 'Yes, we did allow him to jump in the main area, but we had no idea that this was risky - since that time I've done a lot of reading on the internet about how risky it is to have two vastly different sized people on the same trampoline"

I am so sorry for your little one, and my sympathies to all of you. I hope he heals fast with no problems. I quoted you from another post here, because it does not make a whole lot of sense to me that you would not consider the differential in height/size and anticipate falls, bumps, etc. For a lot of reasons, I doubt that any attorney is going to take a case and try to get you any major money. I would, as others have suggested, approach the venue with a request or reimbursement of medical costs, but I honestly feel they will refuse to do so.

Poor little guy - again, my sympathies.

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@joshobra: I've used the one near my home several times, and my kids are there monthly (5 & 7 yr olds, and I'm 40+). None of us have ever been injured, we have a blast and it's great exercise. I would say it's more dangerous to ride a bike, a scooter, a skateboard, skis, snowboards, or rollerskates than jump on these trampolines. The waiver we have to sign every time even includes the possibility of death, which makes you think.

You're either the type of person who realizes life itself is dangerous, or you're the type that wants to ban everything that could possibly injure anyone. For the people (@aphroat)who say "shut these places down before they break someone's neck" wtf is your problem? Who elected you the king who gets to decide what I and my children get to do for fun? how mabout I ban you and your kids from bikes? lots more kids per capita are injured or killed on bikes than trampolines... EVERY kid I knew growing up had at least a sprain from a fall off a bike!

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I agree with Ken and Moondrake. I don't think you're a bad parent, but if I were on a jury based on the 'evidence' as described in this thread I wouldn't award you anything either. I don't know to what extent the waiver is the 'get out of lawsuits free' card it purports to be, but it certainly establishes in writing and beyond any doubt that you fully understood the risks. You'd then have to establish that the trampoline place was negligent, which as far as I can tell they weren't. You probably should have gotten your money back when you saw the little-kid area wasn't open but you decided to put him in the adult area anyway.

My prediction: you'll talk to a lawyer who will go on about BIG CA$H $ETTLEMENT$ and you'll spend months or even years of your life in court on a pointless lawsuit you'll ultimately lose.

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Our SkyZone is supposed to have an area just for small folks to jump, but it was closed. ... But, they were understaffed, so they had it closed.

If the situation is as stated above, this would appear to have legal relevance and points to negligence, since your young son was not turned away. The company may well be happy to settle in relatively short order. I would consult an attorney; a letter on legal letterhead could motivate a quicker response.

Also, "4-year-old on church trip breaks leg at local amusement" is not publicity they want. Apparently they'd rather you just go away and keep quiet, but if they have to cover some medical expenses to achieve that, then that's just a cost of doing (that kind of) business.

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My only issue-
After 3 weeks, you're JUST NOW seriously thinking of contacting them, ONLY after running past the fine folks here?
Sorry, this should've been handled immediately, just like a car wreck. To me, this is now a personal responsibility issue. Kid's gonna live and grow up fine, move on. Life's too short.

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@havocsback: As I mentioned above, they said they would be contacting us. At first I was giving them time to do that. Then I figured I'd wait until we got our medical bills back. Otherwise I'd just be calling them up and saying "by the way, my kid broke his leg, what are you gonna do about it?"

Many years ago I was in a my-fault car accident. The other party didn't contact me until two years later with a lawsuit.

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Holy crap have you not heard of accepted risk? People don't jump out of planes without knowing there is a risk of serious injury or death, just like people don't drive cars without the same knowledge. If you go to a place where people bounce around on trampolines, you have to assume someone could get hurt.

I don't understand why you wouldn't get mad that they twisted something, but once you found out it's broken and will cost you money, that's when you consider legal action.

The kids area was closed, you decided it would be ok to let your kid play on something meant for older people, and now you want to blame someone else? Doesn't seem right to me, but it's just an opinion.

Not saying your'e a bad parent, but it was your decision to bring them there.

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@woothulhu: A twist means he's down for the night, and maybe another day of being sore.

A broken bone means 4 weeks in a cast, and maybe another 4 in a brace after that. Plus a lot more pain and inconvenience.

Not everything's about money. And you really don't have to use the tone of "holy crap" with me, thank you.

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@tsfisch: Would you be considering legal action if this happened at a friends house?