Each summer, approximately 14 million kids across the United States will head to summer camps. The American Camp Association estimates that the USA has more than 14,000 camps, around 8,400 of which are sleep-away camps while 5,600 are day camps. While sleep-away camps offer your child a perfect opportunity to experience the great outdoors, enjoy new activities, and interact with new acquaintances, it is not without its fair share of risks. A recent study that tracked the injuries and illnesses experienced by summer campers found that an average of 1.15 illnesses or injuries occurred per 1,000 campers. While these results should be reassuring to parents about the overall safety of summer camps, when injuries do occur, they can be quite serious.
Common summer camp injuries and illnesses
Though summer camp accidents happen, they can be prevented by making yourself and your child aware of the potential dangers they face. Some of the most common sleep-away camp illnesses and injuries include:
The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) estimates that about 5.6 million children under 18 years suffer from food allergies. It is vital that you inform the camp’s administrators of any food allergens your child might be suffering from. Also, some camps specifically cater to campers with food allergies.
With kids sleeping in close quarters and being in contact with each other, they are at risk of passing communicable diseases such as gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, measles, or even meningitis to each other. You can hold the camp operator liable if your personal injury lawyer proves that a disease was as a result of their negligence.
Slips, trips, and falls
Most summer camp activities include sporting and gaming activities that predispose the campers to slips, trips, and falls. Apart from such activities being supervised, the camp operators should ensure that properly maintained equipment is used.
Bites and rashes
Most summer camp activities take place on the outdoors. Unfortunately, your child is predisposed to animal and insect bites as well as plants that could irritate the skin. The camp operators have a duty to provide campers with ointments or sprays that prevent bug bites. In case the camp is in a snake-infested area, the camp operators should have a snake bite kit and available means of transport to take any affected camper to a nearby hospital.
Drowning or pool-related injuries
While some camps are near lakes or other water bodies, some have swimming pools to facilitate campers’ recreational activities. As children have different levels of swimming experience, instances of drowning and other pool-related injuries are quite common.
Bonfires are quite common in camps. While burns are rare, campers who are not aware of fire safety rules could get burnt.
Campers playing in extremely hot and humid weather are at risk of heatstroke. The camp staff should explain this and take reasonable measures such as preventing outdoor activities and providing the campers with sufficient water. They should also educate them on the need to stay hydrated under such conditions.
The camp’s responsibility
Legally, camp owners who allow people to their property must keep the grounds reasonably safe. In this regard, summer camp operators should regularly inspect the camp premises for potential hazards. Should they come across a possibly dangerous condition, they should take measures to correct the problem within a reasonable time frame. Camp attendees should also be warned of the danger and be instructed on how they can avoid it.
The camp operators should inspect all the equipment used in the summer camp activities. An adult also needs to be always present when the attendees are participating in activities that pose any form of risk. For instance, children should be accompanied on hikes and a lifeguard needs to be posted near a pool or lake.
Understanding the liability waiver
Most facilities require the parent to sign a liability waiver when enrolling their kid(s) for summer camp. The liability waiver is meant to help the institution avoid unnecessary lawsuits. While most parents think that signing a liability waiver prevents you from taking legal action, waivers are not always enforceable. Negligence on the part of the summer camp to provide a safe environment for the campers may void the waiver. Waivers may also be found to be overly broad or, conversely, may have been drafted to be overly narrow, thus still enabling parents to pursue a legal action for damages resulting from injury or even illness a child experiences at a summer camp.
A personal injury attorney can help you determine whether you have a valid cause of action against your child’s summer camp. Such determinations require an investigation into the circumstances surrounding your child’s injury or illness and then assessing those circumstances against the governing law.
Contact Thompson Law
If your child has sustained injuries in a sleep-away camp, let our personal injury attorneys walk you through your legal options. The Thompson Law team has experienced attorneys and investigators who can help you determine whether you have a valid cause of action against your child’s summer camp. The team at Thompson Law is committed to getting you the compensation you deserve if your child is injured due to negligence on the part of the summer camp to which you entrusted your child’s safety. Contact us at 844-308-8180. We are available 24/7 to assist you.