Don’t be caught on the hop by a bouncy castle!
A recent case has emphasised the need to take care when organising activities at children’s parties. When parents hired a bouncy castle for a children’s birthday party one child was seriously injured when another was attracted by the castle and became rather over zealous in throwing himself around on the castle. Unfortunately there was a clash of heads and a case was brought on behalf of the injured child for compensation. The case was brought against the parents who had hired the bouncy castle and at the trial the Judge found that the supervision and arrangements to try and avoid such an injury were insufficient. The Judge found that the parents who had hired the bouncy castle were liable for hefty compensation.
On appeal, the parents succeeded in having the decision overturned and the Appeal Court gave some guidance as to when parents in this position could face liability for injuries sustained by children using the bouncy castle. The Court said that a parent should consider what positive steps it should take for the safety of the children who would be playing on the bouncy castle bearing in mind their age. The test would be what the reasonable parent ought to foresee. There was, however, no justification for the children to be kept under constant uninterrupted supervision while on the bouncy castle. “The fact that one of the parents had turned her back on the castle for a few moments when the accident occurred was not a breach of duty”.
The Court accepted that it was impossible to prevent all risk and quite impractical for parents to keep children under constant surveillance or supervision, nor would it be in the public interest for the law to impose a duty upon them to do so.
Nonetheless this case highlights that there is a duty upon parents to “consider what risks may arise and take some positive steps to reduce those risks”. The level of supervision may be determined by the age of the children but nonetheless some supervision will always be required. Parents hiring bouncy castles will still be well advised to check that there is good insurance cover in place and to establish some ground rules for use which are communicated to the children who will be using the bouncy castle and their parents.
Parents should also bear in that a similar duty of care will arise in the case of garden trampolines.
If you are organising activities at children’s parties bear in mind the general principles that this case establishes – the need for forward thinking and supervision. If your child is attending a children’s party and gets hurt in circumstances where you believe the planning and supervision has been wanting give us a call for advice straight away.
For further information as to preventing or pursuing personal injury claims contact Nigel Pepper or Patrick Nelson on 01785 211411.
10 October 2008
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances. (50587)