Child Accidents at Summer Camp
As children, we all enjoyed going off to summer camps. We would make new friends and learn new things. Parents would enjoy a little time away from the kids and trust that all will be well for a few days or a week. Camp programs today are fairly expensive, and you expect your children to be well cared for. However, there are still so many ways for small kids to get hurt if not properly supervised or if the camp equipment is not well maintained. This is where a moment of inattention or neglect can result in a serious child injury or even worse. Playgrounds must be set up correctly when first installed and then regularly inspected for wear and loose parts. Mulch underneath swings or other areas where children will be playing must be replenished and spread evenly to prevent injury from expected falls. To be safe, the camp employees must be on constant watch for unsafe conditions or dangerous play. If they do not do their job properly, child injury can occur. Camp counselors and their assistants must also know basic first aid and how to properly care for and treat injuries. And, if they see something getting out of hand, they must act quickly to prevent harm. Certainly, we want everyone to have a great summer and have those childhood experiences that will last a lifetime. But above all, we want everyone to be careful and head back home safe and sound to their parents and friends. Don’t take safety for granted. It is up to everyone to stay aware and watch out for each other.
Children Are Treated Differently
The law says children are more vulnerable, and thus, are treated differently than adults. A young child cannot be contributorily negligent (NC) or comparatively negligent (SC). Consequently, their injuries can still be compensable even if they engage in activities that might be considered unsafe. After all, “kids will be kids.” This is not an excuse, but rather, a warning to those persons charged with their care. This is precisely why we have to watch out for their safety more than others, because “kids will be kids.” If a camp is willing to take your money, they should be held accountable if they don’t also take care of your children.
Waivers of Liability
One last thing about summer camps. Private companies who operate camps routinely present parents with extensive “waivers of liability” forms which purport to hold themselves harmless from lawsuits if their children are injured while away. In many cases, these forms are not worth the paper they are written on. Such waivers cannot absolve liability where equipment is not maintained, where there are insufficient or insufficiently trained staff, or activities are too dangerous to involve children in the first place. And as we discussed above, children cannot legally enter into such contracts and are not held to the same legal standard in negligence claims for child injury cases. I would caution parents about sending their children to such camps if presented with such a waiver. All we really want is for the camp to take care of our kids and focus on having a great summer.
Be Safe. Get Home.