Summer is the perfect time for kids to explore new activities, make new friends, and create lifelong memories. It’s also the ideal time for injuries, thanks to all those new activities and outdoor dangers. If you send your little ones to summer camp, there’s always a risk of injury. Whose fault is it? Is there any chance of recovering your losses?
Learn more about summer camp injuries, and if you need personalized assistance with an injury claim, call Mann & Potter at 205-879-9661.
Understanding Premises Liability
First, know that any claim you have against anyone likely falls under the umbrella of premises liability. Property owners, including owners of properties used for commercial ventures, are responsible for keeping guests and visitors safe. To a degree, this even includes trespassers—they cannot purposefully set up dangers or traps to harm trespassers.
In the context of summer camp, this means that the owner of the camp must take proper safety precautions with children in mind. Trails should be easy to see and navigate, unsafe areas should be completely boarded up and inaccessible, and children should be warned of all potential dangers.
If a property owner does not fulfill this obligation, the person injured by their negligence may have a claim against them for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
Who May Be Liable
Generally, the owner of a commercial property is also responsible for the actions of their staff members. This means that if a staff member directly or indirectly causes your child’s injury, both the staff member and the employer may have some liability. Much depends on the specifics of your case and where the injury occurred. In this situation, you would usually go after the owner of the camp for damages—not the staff member. Employers have insurance in place to cover losses caused by their employees, which usually prevents injured parties from suing employees directly.
Even if the injury was entirely a staff member’s fault, it’s likely that liability will fall on the camp owner. Part of their duty as a camp owner is to keep children safe, which also covers their hiring practices. While choosing camp counselors and other staff members, they should be checking experience levels, running background checks, and otherwise looking for red flags that could endanger children.
Parents often believe they don’t have any legal options when their child is injured at camp. This is because the majority of summer camps require parents to sign a liability waiver before their children can participate. The language on these waivers can be quite intimidating to parents, stating that the camp has zero responsibility for any accidents that occur if you allow your children to participate in risky behaviors. This is based on the idea that there is an assumed risk of injury with activities like swimming, horseback riding, hiking, and exploring the woods.
However, it’s important to note that these liability waivers don’t cover everything. While the camp may give you the impression that your contract is ironclad, that contract does not protect them from negligent or reckless treatment by staff members. Yes, attending summer camp comes with assumed risks. However, you shouldn’t have to expect that careless counselors or staff members will be put in charge of your children.
Your Next Steps
If your child calls you about a summer camp injury or you find out about the injury after they return home, it’s important to act quickly to preserve evidence and your child’s memory of the accident. You may want to begin by consulting a personal injury attorney. Make sure you bring a copy of your liability waiver, so they’ll know exactly what you agreed to when you sent your child. As soon as possible, get a clear statement from your child regarding what happened and how they got injured. You should also contact the camp to get their side of the story.
Discuss Your Options with Mann & Potter
The team at Mann & Potter knows that an injured child can be heartbreaking and challenging for parents. We believe that those who engage in negligent or reckless behavior must be held accountable. Learn more about your legal options now and give us a call at 205-879-9661 or contact us online.