Who is Responsible if my Child is Injured at Summer Camp?
With summer camp season just around the corner, many kids and their parents are anxious to have some outdoor fun to put behind the restrictions posed by the COVID lockdown.
Camps are readying for the surge of new youngsters by preparing cabins, bunks, the dining room and kitchens, and equipment. Staff is being hired and trained. All of this is necessary to offer a safe, happy camping experience. Still, as a parent, you should understand and prepare your children for the potential risks that come from an outdoor adventure.
Swimming, hiking, zip-lining, baseball, football, soccer, horse riding, boating, sailing, and jet–skiing are exciting experiences. We want to trust that the camp will put safety first and that instructors are professionally trained.
A safer way to go is trust but verify – as the saying goes. The camp needs to earn your trust before your send your precious child there, and when you visit the facility, you should have your eyes wide opened.
For example, given that the coronavirus is still alive among the U.S. population, what are the camp’s health-related plans and procedures to fight the spread of the virus?
Visiting the Camp
Hopefully, you will be able to visit the camp before sending your child there. If so, please look for simple things like cleanliness. That may be an indicator of how seriously the camp takes your child’s safety. Is there working equipment your child is expected to use, such as a boat, dock, or zip-line? Are pathways marked and free of tree trunks and rocks?
The counselors supervising your child – how much training do they have? Have they attended the same camp in the past, either as a counselor or camper? What specialized first aid training do they have? Has the camp done an adequate background check on each counselor?
What medical personnel are on-site?
The regulation of summer camps varies by state. The American Camping Association (ACA) has requirements recognized as the standard of care for camps. Ask what they are and how that camp is meeting them.
A camp counselor can’t watch your child around the clock. Understand that injuries do happen, and most of the time, they are minor, requiring a time out and a band-aid.
Unfortunately, serious injuries can happen, and they bring hospital bills and trauma. In that case, there may be some avenues for you to obtain compensation from the negligent party, so you don’t have to pay for their mistake.
That type of law is called premises liability. It is similar to slipping in a store or falling down some unsecured stairs.
In the case of an accident, we will determine if the camp provided a safe, clean space for your child. Did your child slip in the kitchen or get hit in the head by faulty equipment? The camp is responsible for keeping the floor clean from messy spills and ensuring that equipment is working. If they have failed to do that, they may be held liable for the injury.
If another child injures your child, was the staff supervising adequately? Did the counselor cause the injury or fail to oversee a potential situation? If the camp did not check the background of its hires, the camp could be blamed if a staff person caused or contributed to an injury or accident.
When you enroll your child in summer camp, you will want to pay attention to the fine print on any contract that you sign. Within some are liability waivers. Camp contracts are created by law firms trying to avoid liability if your child is injured.
Some state outright that the camp is not responsible in the case of injury or illness of your child.
There are exceptions to the liability waiver. If someone employed by the camp acts reckless or negligent, they are not protected from a lawsuit since they hired and trained that staff member.
An experienced personal injury attorney may be able to find holes in the contract you signed to allow you to recover the damages you seek as compensation for the injury.
Visit with Chip Nix to explore your potential case. He may find that the camp was negligent or the counselor was reckless, therefore is the at-fault party. Call his Montgomery office at (334) 279-7770 right away so he can help explore the compensation you deserve.