Everyone has seen the inflatable "bounce houses" and similar
amusements that seem to have become almost mandatory at children's
birthday parties. Fortunately, most families rent one of these "inflatable
amusement devices" from a local vendor and the kids enjoy themselves
without incident for an afternoon or evening. This was not the case in
a recent accident near Lincoln, NE.
In today's post the personal injury and defective consumer product
The Doan Law Firm will give a summary of the facts in that accident as they are known at
this time. He will then review what have historically been the most common
factors in such accidents.
A two-year-old boy died Thursday afternoon after being injured in a "freak
accident" involving a "bounce pillow" on Wednesday.
The Lincoln (NE) Star-Journal reported that 2-year-old Caleb Acuna was
pronounced dead early Thursday afternoon and was removed from life support
Friday morning. The preliminary cause of death was listed as brain injury
secondary to severe head trauma.
According to witnesses Caleb, along with his 5-year-old sister Acuna and
their parents, were visiting a seasonal attraction known as JK's Pumpkin
Patch as members of a local church group and had been playing on the bounce
pillow in the minutes prior to the accident when a sudden gust of wind
ripped the device from its moorings in the ground. Caleb's parents
and sister were able to safely get off the pillow, but Caleb became trapped
in its folds of fabric. He was tossed some 30 to 40 feet and sustained
massive head trauma. His sister was treated for a broken arm and his parents
were reported as being uninjured. In the same story the Star-Journal stated that the Lincoln office of the
National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory earlier Wednesday
afternoon, cautioning that wind gusts of 60 mph were possible.
Are inflatable attractions safe?
Given the relatively few serious accidents that have been reported, when
properly "set-up" and monitored, inflatables seem to pose no
great risk of injury. However, given the increasing number of vendors
offering such products for sale or rent
and the lack of industry-wide safety standards, this may be subject to change.
According to the "trade group" (actually, inflatable amusement
Bounce Houses Now, each state and/or municipality is responsible for establishing its own
regulations regarding commercial inflatable amusement devices. As you
might imagine, a review of the available information demonstrates "considerable
variation" in how vigorously such laws and regulations are enforced
(if they exist at all). In many states, the same often-understaffed agency
charged with supervising traveling carnivals and circuses must also inspect
the ever-increasing number of inflatable amusement vendors.
In the absence of uniform laws and regulations at both the national and
state levels "best practices," such as the Consumer Products
Safety Commission's (CPSC)
AMUSEMENT RIDE SAFETY BULLETIN: Inflatable Amusement Devices, Residential
and Commercial Guidance (August 2015) must serve as the
de facto industry safety reference. Although it lacks the "force of law"
that would require commercial inflatable amusement device to follow its
recommendations, if an injury occurs and it is later determined that an
operator failed to make a good faith effort at compliance, most courts
will view such a failure as an act of negligence and would expose the
operator to liability for damages.
Potential Liability Issues
Although the investigation into this tragedy is in its earliest stages,
personal injury lawyers have long recognized that there are usually three
factors that play a role in bounce house accidents.
Failure to comply with local licensing / permit process
does not appear to have been a factor since the owner of JK's Pumpkin Patch,
Josh Kadavy, apparently had met the Lancaster County (NE)
licensing and permit requirements and, according to the Star-Tribune and
KUTV, the county commissioners had issued a business license in August.
Defective product design / manufacture
Products such as bounce "houses" and bounce "cushions"
(a bounce house without walls) are intentionally manufactured out of very
light but sturdy fabrics and are then filled with air. This makes them
inherently unstable in all but the mildest, gentlest breezes. It is unknown
if anyone sounded a warning that weather conditions were deteriorating
prior to the accident, but even the best-constructed and most carefully
operated inflatable becomes dangerous in winds above 15 to 20 mph. As
mentioned, the wind gust that caused this accident was estimated to have
been at 60 mph.
Improper installation / operation
Again according to news reports, the "bounce cushion" had been
in use for several hours prior to the accident and appeared to have been
functioning properly. As noted in the previous section, the wind speeds
that had been reported in the minutes prior to the accident were strong
enough to have been rated as "tropical storm" in velocity. Based
on the available early data, there appears to be no defensible reason
for the inflatable to have been in use late Wednesday afternoon.
Have an experienced personal injury and product liability lawyer investigate
your bounce house accident injury case
When investigating an accident such as this, it is often necessary to retain
the services of a lawyer with experience in conducting exhaustive investigations
of complicated cases where there is more than one defendant that may have
contributed to the chain of events leading to a tragedy.
One lawyer with extensive experience in both personal injury and defective
consumer product law is
The Doan Law Firm, a nationwide personal injury law practice with branch offices located
in major cities throughout country.
When you have the Doan Law Firm's personal injury and defective product
lawyer on your side, you will make use of our firm's years of experience
in managing complex lawsuits where there is more than one defendant that
is being held accountable for their actions. In fact, you start making
use of our experienced team of lawyers, paralegals, and investigators
when you contact us to arrange a
free, no obligation, review of your bounce house injury case.
If you decide that the Doan Law Firm should represent you in your Bounce
House accident case, we are always willing to assume full responsibility
for all aspects, including financial, of preparing your case for trial.
This means that we will advance you any and all expenses necessary for
you to build the strongest case possible. In other words, we take on all
the financial risks and you owe us nothing unless your win your case!