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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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).
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:
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.
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.
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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