Risky Business: Sliding into summer
By Ashleigh Petersen Mary Ann Gormly, CERP
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Risky Business: Sliding into summer

Inflatable accident leads to settlement

Summer is just around the corner and with the hot temperatures of summer come outdoor activities of all kinds. One favorite pastime is playing in the water.

One grandmother knew very well how much her grandson loved playing in the water. For his birthday she decided to rent an inflatable water slide for him and his friends.

She contacted the rental store nearest her home and arranged for delivery of the slide for the following weekend. Her grandson and his friends looked forward to the party all week. They talked about it at recess and after school. It was the end of May and the temperatures were already nearing 90 degrees on a regular basis. They were ready for a fun way to cool off.

The day of the party arrived, and the employees of the rental store arrived a few hours prior to the party to get the water slide set up. They staked it down, fastened all the areas that needed to be connected, checked everything and inflated the slide. The grandmother was outside with the employees while the slide was set up. They provided her with a sheet containing guidelines for safe use of the water slide.

Soon it was time for the party to begin. The grandson and his friends took turns going up the steps and sliding down the slide. The grandmother and some of the parents of the kids hung around near the slide to make sure the kids were using the slide correctly. After a few minutes they decided to go inside where it was cooler.

About 30 minutes later, they heard a loud scream and rushed outside. The birthday boy was midway down the slide and his right leg was stuck. It was twisted at an odd angle and was hung up on something on the side of the slide. The adults got him down and called an ambulance. The report from the hospital stated that he suffered a spiral fracture of the right femur when his leg became caught in a gap in the inflatable slide.

A couple of weeks later, an attorney for the grandmother contacted the rental store and let them know about the boy’s injury. The owner of the rental store called his agent who started a claim. Right away the owner removed the slide from the rental rotation and isolated it. It had not been rented since the day of the party.

The suit was filed and defense counsel for the rental store arranged with the grandmother’s attorney to schedule a joint inspection of the slide. Once inflated the gap between the slide surface and the side wall was apparent. The rental store did not have any maintenance records for the inflatable, nor did they have any documentation to prove they had verified it was in good condition and ready to be rented. They stated they had never had any issues before now with the slide, so they didn’t see the reason for documentation.

The grandmother shared some liability because it clearly stated in the paperwork that she had signed that there was always to be adult supervision and the adults had admittedly all gone into the house.

Months later, the claim was settled at mediation for nearly $300,000. This was far less than the initial demand of nearly $900,000.

Mary Ann Gormly, CERP, is a loss analyst for ARA Insurance, Overland Park, Kan. For more information, call 800-821-6580 or visit ARAinsure.com.

Ashleigh Petersen

Ashleigh PetersenAshleigh Petersen

Ashleigh Petersen is the associate editor for Rental Management. She writes news and feature articles, plus coordinates the monthly Safety Issue and several sections in the magazine. Ashleigh loves spending time with her husband and young son, baking, gardening and listening to true crime and comedy podcasts.

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