For many families, summer means sending children to daytime or overnight camps. Most kids look forward to camp and spend anywhere from two days to a few weeks having fun, meeting new friends and learning exciting activities and skills. But summer camp injuries can occur, and parents may not know what their legal options are.
Summer Camp staff should exercise the same amount of care and responsibility as any prudent parent would to their child, and failure to do so may result in a serious summer camp injury. The camp owner, operator and/or camp counselor could potentially be liable if negligence has occurred.
If your child has been seriously injured at summer camp and you have any questions regarding a possible lawsuit, summer camp injury attorney Jeffrey Killino has a proven track record of success in handling summer camp injuries. If your child has been injured at summer camp, contact lawyer Jeffrey Killino today to prevent a summer camp injury from happening again and receive compensation for the child’s injuries, including medical care.
More than 10 million children attended about 12,000 summer camps in 2009 and in the past decade attendance has been on the rise, according to the American Camp Association (ACA). Accreditation with ACA means that your child’s summer camp undergoes a thorough peer review of its operation — from staff qualifications and training to emergency management. Summer camp operators –and to some extent owners—have a duty to always be “safety first”. While any summer camp cannot claim that your child will have an injury-free stay, they must take care to avoid situations that pose any risk. Failure to do so could lead to a summer camp injury lawsuit.
Summer Camp Illness
Kids (who are sleeping in fairly close quarters) are more likely to become ill than injured at camp. Healthy Camp Study, a national injury and illness monitoring program in U.S. camps, found that illness rate is almost double that of injury. And infectious diseases (respiratory infections and gastroenteritis or stomach flu) account for about 20 percent of illnesses among day and resident campers and staff.
Summer camp food poisoning can result from unsanitary kitchens and staff inexperienced in food safety. Although rare, if an outbreak of a life-threating disease occurs such as meningitis or measles, it may be possible to prove negligence and hold the camp liable for any damage to your child’s health: perhaps the first case wasn’t handled appropriately, or the camp’s vaccination requirements were lax.
Summer Camp Injuries
Unfortunately, there is ample opportunity for child injury in a variety of activities. Health professionals reported the following:
- Trips, slips, and falls are the most commonly reported causes of injury in day and resident camps. In resident camps, close to 30 percent of all injuries are sprains or strains resulting from a trip, slip, or fall.
- Head injuries, from running into a tree to hitting the head in a bus accident (not all states require that buses have seatbelts), being hit in the head with a piece of sports equipment, are in the top five list of injuries for campers in day and resident camps. Protective equipment wasn’t being worn (by campers and/ or staff) in 50 percent of injury events in which protective equipment was applicable.
- Fatigue is a contributing factor in many illness and injury events for both campers and staff. As people get tired later in the day, incidents occur more frequently. Incidents are more likely to happen when staff and campers get “worn out” from long camp events.
In order to have the safest and most rewarding experience, it is important to choose the right camp for your child and to take precautions. However, even though your child follows camp rules, stays hydrated and always aware of their surroundings, injuries still happen. Jeffrey Killino is familiar with how to stay safe at camp, and some of the common dangers and risks associated with summer camp activities.
Other Summer Camp Injuries include – and can be a result of:
- Drowning: Swimming pool and water sports hazards; lifeguard not on duty when they should be. Swimming in a lake or river with a current or inclement weather.
- Physical Abuse and Sexual Abuse: Either a camp operator or an unwanted visitor can enter the camp and harm a child. Camp owners are responsible for securing the camp and keeping anyone not invited off the grounds.
- Failure to Correctly Administer First Aid: Camp operators failing to properly treat an injured camper with a preexisting condition such as diabetes or asthma.
- Heat stroke.Children are often playing outdoors for long periods of time and camp operators need to be alert and check appropriate preventative measures as well as emergency responses.
- Serious sunburns: Children are typically unaware of serious sunburn, so camp counselors need to be vigilant about campers wearing the right attire and frequently applying sunscreen.
- Bus Accident: Driver negligence or lack of proper vehicle maintenance can cause children to fall and suffer head injuries from banging into the front seat.
- Insect bites and Animal Attacks: Animals attacks are rare, but horseback riding poses risks. Bites from insects, spiders, ticks, and other creatures could be serious and must be treated immediately.
- Summer Camp Fires: If not adequately supervised, cooking and sitting around a campfire can result in severe burns if children play with fire.
Hazards on Summer Camp Premises
Tragedy can strike in ways that seem unexpected in advance, but obvious after it happens. Before enrolling your child in summer camp, take some time to check the premises and ask questions such as the following:
- Is everything up to building and safety code?
- Is everything up to electric code?
- Are the play areas safe and up to code?
- Is the swimming area safe code compliant?
- Is there a fire safety plan in place, fire extinguishers strategically placed and inspected? Make sure that fire drills are held within the first 48 hours of each camping session and periodically thereafter in accordance with the fire safety plan.
- Medical supplies, cleaning materials, equipment and other hazardous substances, and heating and electrical equipment must be inaccessible to children. If any equipment is used to maintain the area such as a lawn mower or other tools, are they all locked away securely?
- If there is a swimming pool and/or dock, check that all the boards safe and secure and there is no rot or rusty nails.
- What is the water source? Are the pipes free of lead?
- Is there proper first aid equipment on site and does staff have first aid training?
A detailed summer camp safety plan guideline detailing potential premise hazards can be found here: https://www.acacamps.org/sites/default/files/resource_library/07-PA-NewYorkStateGuidelinesforplanning_0.pdf
(Please visit The American Academy of Pediatrics https://www.aap.org/en-us/Pages/Default.aspx for specific guidelines regarding medical care of children in summer residential camps and the ACA https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/camping-magazine/ten-ways-reduce-injuries-illnesses-camp for ways to reduce injuries and illness in camp.)
If you are concerned about injury waivers, they aren’t always enforceable. A qualified and experienced summer camp injury lawyer can review waiver documents and help determine whether your child’s injury may give rise to a potential claim for compensation.
Contact lawyer Jeffrey Killino, where keeping children safe is his primary goal. To speak with attorney Killino, please fill out the form on this page, call us toll free at 877-875-2927.