School is out, but that doesn’t mean your child has to be stuck at home for the summer with no structure and nothing to do. Summer camps are a great way to keep your child active, supervised, and having fun – while also allowing them to branch out. However, summer camps come with a lot of risks you won’t find in a classroom.
Activities like swimming, climbing, building campfires, and so on may just be part of summer, but they also present lots of potential dangers. On top of this, there may be a lot of children – so many that counselors can’t watch your child’s every move. Sometimes, injuries happen. And if they do, you and your child may undergo serious emotional trauma and find hospital bills stacking up quickly.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you speak with an experienced Florida injury attorney. Why? Because while some summer camp injuries may truly be freak accidents or even the fault of your child, others could – and should – have been prevented by the staff or owners of the camp. And if their negligence resulted in your child getting hurt, you shouldn’t have to pay for their mistake.
It’s called premises liability, and it’s the same law that applies if someone falls down hotel stairs because the lightbulbs were out or a rotten balcony bannister causes someone to plummet.
What Exactly Is Premises Liability?
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This principle is commonly discussed in slip and fall and personal injury lawsuits.
Camps have a responsibility of providing a safe, clean space for their attendees to play, sleep, and eat. If, for example, your child suffers an injury from a spill on the kitchen floor, you may be able to file a lawsuit for damages. The staff is responsible for removing, cleaning, or warning attendees about the spill. So if they did not do this, the camp can be held liable for your child’s injury.
The Responsibility of Camp Staff
Summer camp injuries are most likely to happen during supervised activities. The staff of a summer camp carries a lot of responsibilities, especially at overnight camps or athletic training camps.
If your child suffers an injury due to the direct actions of a member of the camp’s staff (abuse, negligence, and so on), the camp may be liable for the staff member’s actions. Many camps perform background checks when hiring staff, because the staff comes in close contact with children. Hiring a staff member without doing a background check is a big mistake, and could cost them big time if the staff member causes a lawsuit.
Pay Attention to Liability Waivers
Summer camps are no strangers to lawsuits, regarding injuries or not. In 2013, a summer camp was sued for over $600,000… over two campers kissing. No, this is not a joke.
Injury lawsuits are just as tiresome for summer camps as they are for you, so they’ve taken their own precautions to prevent them from happening. That’s where liability waivers come in – all the paperwork you signed when you enrolled your child in that camp.
Each camp comes with its own risk, but some are riskier than other. For example, you would expect more injuries to happen at football camp than at music camp. Camps with pools or lakes run the risk of children drowning. Outdoor camps run the risk of children getting bitten by ticks or other dangerous creatures. To take proper precautions, camps often have parents sign a liability waiver.
The waiver states that based on the camp’s itinerary or space, there is an assumed risk of injury. By signing the waiver, you acknowledge this risk, and that the camp is not responsible for injuries from these risky behaviors. Liability waivers often have clauses that do not allow you to file a lawsuit against the camp in case of injury or illness.
These waivers, however, are not ironclad. They don’t protect the camp or staff members if someone under their employ acted in a negligent or reckless manner. “Assumed risk” is one thing – unsafe behavior is another.
How You Can Prepare Your Child
Remember, not every precaution is the responsibility of the camp. If you intend to file a lawsuit for injuries, the defendant will likely try to show that you or your child were guilty of negligence as well. Remember the following tips when you are getting your child ready for summer camp:
- Pack a safety kit for your child. Include appropriate footwear and clothing, a reusable water bottle, a first aid kit, sunscreen, and any allergy medication your child needs.
- Teach your child how to swim and ride a bike. These are common activities at a summer camp, and if your child comes unprepared, he or she will be at a higher risk for injury.
- Introduce yourself to camp staff before you drop your child off for their first day. If your child requires medication, go over any special instructions or warnings with camp staff. If your child has allergies or has any disabilities, let staff know.
You Can Still File a Lawsuit
Remember, an experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to find holes or exceptions in the contract you signed that will let you file a lawsuit or ask for damages. If you believe you deserve compensation for your child’s injuries, you should explore all of your options. Reach out to a Florida personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.