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Bouncy Castle and Inflatable Injury Claims

Bouncy castles and other toy inflatables have been part of childhood since the 1960s and are a staple of many children’s parties. However, increasingly a number of accidents involving bouncy castles and inflatable slides have hit the headlines, with the most serious incidents leading to fatal accidents involving children.

Any accident involving a child is traumatic, but more so when the accident leads to a serious injury, death or comes as the result of something that appears harmless and fun.

If your child has been injured in an accident involving an inflatable, we can only imagine how stressful this must be and how scared your child must feel. While claiming compensation won’t take the stress or fear away, it can get you an apology for the accident, and financial compensation to help reimburse the cost of the injury and your child’s recovery.

DID YOU KNOW: Summer Grant was seven when she was killed after the ‘superdome’ inflatable she was playing on blew away in the wind. The Health and Safety Executive found that the inflatable had 17 anchorage points on the base – the international standard requirement is 24.

Starting a bouncy castle claim

Claiming might be the last thing on your mind, particularly if your child is still recovering from their accident – or perhaps it’s you who is recovering from an injury. However, finding out if you can claim is easy – it starts with a free phone call to 0800 234 6438. By calling, you can get tailored, no obligation advice about whether you can claim and the next steps.

During the call a trained legal adviser will ask you some questions about the accident. They’ll then let you know whether they think you can make a claim.

You’re under no obligation to make a claim, but if you decide to go ahead, they can pass you onto a specialist solicitor on the same call. The solicitor will then offer you a free consultation before you start your claim, and talk through what no win no fee means.

Throughout the claims process, your solicitor will be able to do most of the work on behalf of you and your child – you’ll need to do some paperwork, but they’ll be on hand to support you with this.

Proving somebody was at fault

For your claim to be successful, your solicitor will need to prove that the bouncy castle or inflatable was unsafe for use. This is typically done by your solicitor working to prove that the accident was avoidable and directly caused by a breach of the operator or hiring company’s duty of care.

Your solicitor will do most of the work, relying on the information you’ve given about your accident when speaking to them, but they will need to know who you hired the blow-up from or who was responsible on the day.

Your solicitor may also look to get expert advice from an inflatables inspector. Or if the accident was serious, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), may also need to investigate it. The HSE will produce a report that will cover the quality of the inflatable, whether it was compliant with standards and if proper training had been given.

While your solicitor will do a lot of the work to prove somebody was at fault for your accident, having these things to hand could help your claim:

  • Photographs of the inflatable showing visible faults, broken ropes or tripping hazards
  • Negligence on the part of the operator, such as being distracted, drunk or failing to turn up
  • Any details of witnesses
  • CCTV of the incident
  • Evidence of poor weather conditions

How long do you have to start a claim?

If you are claiming for your child, you have until they are 18 to start a legal claim on their behalf. If you don’t start a claim before they turn 18, they can start a claim themselves, but they must do so before they turn 21.

If you’re claiming for an accident you were involved in, then you have three years from the date of the accident. It’s important to get started as quickly as possible with your claim, while the accident is clearer in your memory and evidence is more easily obtainable.

It is simple to start the process; just give a trained legal adviser a call on 0800 234 6438 or complete the online form and speak to them for free advice. Remember you’re under no obligation to start a claim when you speak to an adviser.

Regulations around blow-up equipment

Individuals and businesses running and supervising bouncy castles, and other inflatables, have a legal duty of care towards children and any adults using the equipment. Their duty also extends to those in the immediate vicinity, for example parents watching their children play.

The regulations state that the individuals or businesses responsible for the bouncy castles must carry our regular risk assessments to make sure the inflatable is properly maintained, anchored to the ground and that proper supervision is always in place.

It also means other safety checks must take place and be followed. For example, an intoxicated teenager or a child under the minimum height restrictions using the bouncy castle can be seen as negligent, particularly if somebody is injured as a result. Typically, this would mean a case can be brought against the person responsible for supervising the inflatable.

There is also legislation on the health and safety of bouncy castles and inflatables. Under this legislation the inflatable or bouncy castle must:

  • Meet British standards, demonstrated by a unique tagged number or a declaration of compliance
  • Have operating instructions, which clearly state the maximum number of people that can use the blow-up, the minimum height required and other usage information

Public bouncy castles

As well as meeting the standards outlined above, those operating bouncy castles or inflatables publicly, such as at funfairs, must meet additional criteria.

This includes being tested every year to be a ‘competent person’. The company hiring out the blow-up must also have proof that the inflatable has had its annual inspection.

They are also responsible for making sure the inflatable is used in the correct weather conditions. For example, bouncy castles should not be used for commercial purposes if the wind speed exceeds 38km/h (24mph).

DID YOU KNOW: There are more than 10,000 injuries following incidents on bouncy castles each year in the UK.
SOURCE: Boys’ Brigade (PDF)

Compensation amounts

The amount of compensation you and your child could receive if your claim is successful depends on a number of factors. Because of this, we’re not able to tell you how much your claim might be worth before you start your claim.

However, your solicitor has a duty of care to negotiate the maximum amount of compensation possible for your accident. To do this, they consider:

  • How severe the injury is, and the recovery-time
  • Whether the injury will affect your life, or your child’s life, in the future
  • The amount of time you’ve had to take off work because of the injury
  • Any additional care your child has received, even if from a family member or that you’ve needed, if you were injured
  • Any adaptations to your home, car or life
  • Any medical expenses, from physiotherapy to prescription costs and even travel expenses
  • The cost of accommodation near the hospital your loved one may be being treated at

Once your solicitor has taken detailed information from you about the injuries and your recovery, they will be able to give you an estimate of how much they will negotiate for you.

Compensation for your child

If your claim is successful, you may not have access to the compensation straight away. This is because the final settlement, once paid out, must be kept in a special court bank and held in a trust, until your child is 18.

Of course, if any cash is needed during their childhood to help them develop, recover or generally live, then a personal injury trust can be set up which allows for money to be released before they are 18.

Your solicitor will be able to tell you more about personal injury trusts.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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