Sending your child off to school or camp can be both exciting and scary for any parent. It is exciting to see your child growing up, becoming his own person, and gaining confidence and independence. It can also be extremely nerve-wracking to hand over the care of your child to someone else. Will teachers or camp counselors watch over my child carefully? Will they take as good care of him as I do? Placing the livelihood of your child in someone else’s hands is not an easy task. Despite harboring some slight worries, you send your child to school or camp, and believe he will be safe and return home unharmed. Unfortunately, horrifying and tragic accidents can happen while your child is at school or camp, and you are left to pick up the pieces.
At the Reiff Law Firm, our attorneys are committed to holding those parties that failed to keep your child safe responsible for the harm they caused. When your trust is violated and your child hurt, you have legal options. You should not be liable for medical or physical therapy expenses. Additionally, you should be compensated if you lost time at work to care for your child.
Our Philadelphia summer camp and school injury attorneys have decades of experience representing parents and their children. In many cases, liability is shared among multiple parties. You need a law firm that handles complicated personal injury claims. To review your legal rights and options, call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940.
Schools and Camps Have a Duty to Keep Your Child Reasonably Safe
Accidents and injuries usually occur due to improper supervision, negligent supervision, and failure to perform background checks and fully investigate teachers and counselors. Serious injuries like broken bones, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and death may occur in the school, on field trips, or on playgrounds if teachers and supervisors do not monitor children closely. Playground equipment at schools and parks accounts for 76% of all playground injuries each year. School science labs and wood shops are also particularly hazardous to students who are not supervised properly, or if the school has failed to provide proper safety equipment like safety goggles, eyewashes, and burn blankets. Preschool-age children are at risk of choking and suffocation if they are not supervised or if classroom games and toys have small parts and pieces.
Another cause of school and camp injuries is defective or poorly designed playground equipment, like jungle gyms lacking guardrails, loose or broken parts, improperly secured equipment, rusted parts, sharp edges, or improper protective surfaces under equipment in case of a fall. When children attend camps they may participate in potentially hazardous activities like horseback riding, canoeing, boating, hiking, tubing, rafting, and archery. A lack of supervision, improper training, and misuse or lack of safety equipment like helmets and life jackets could end with catastrophic injuries and death.
Common Causes of Injuries at Camps and Schools
While summer camp provides a lifetime’s worth of memories and experiences, the unpleasant reality is that some children are seriously hurt while attending camp. Because of the physical activity, some children will suffer broken bones or head injuries. Many of these unfortunate incidents are just accidents – perhaps a child just fell while running. However, in some cases, the injury results from negligent conduct on the part of the camp counselors or administration. In other situations, the camp equipment is either defective or in a state of disrepair.
Some devastating injuries occur before a child arrives at summer camp. For instance, if your child must travel on a bus to or from camp, there is always a risk of a bus accident. Depending on the circumstances, the bus driver or another motorist could be held liable for any injuries.
Swimming or Boating Accidents
One of the great pleasures of summer camp is swimming and boating on a lake. Some camps also offer their campers access to a pool to beat the summer heat. If children are unsupervised or are not provided the proper safety equipment, serious and potentially deadly accidents could occur. Children are susceptible to injuries while running around a pool, roughhousing with other campers, or being out on a lake without a lifejacket.
Severe Sunburn or Heatstroke
The purpose of summer camp is to be outside, enjoying nature and other physical activities. However, spending hours in the heat and sun could lead to severe sunburns or heat stroke. Depending on the severity of the sunburn, a child could suffer a painful and debilitating skin injury. Heatstroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Many of these injuries are the result of a lack of supervision.
Improper Use of Equipment
Campers have access to outdoor and sporting equipment. From unique playground apparatus to sporting equipment, such as bows and arrows, children will engage in many activities they might not otherwise try. If the equipment is defective or if a counselor is not there to monitor the activity, injuries could occur.
Anyone who has ever raised or dealt with children knows they get sick. When children are surrounded by other children, the chances increase for one or more of them to become ill. However, according to the American Camp Association, children are twice as likely to develop an illness than suffer a physical injury at camp. While it is not common to file a personal injury claim for an illness, if the camp facility allowed a counselor to work while sick or failed to separate a contagious child, there could be grounds for a lawsuit.
Many other common injuries and accidents are listed below.
- Trips, slips, and falls from improperly maintained premises
- Improper or failure to train staff
- Failure to provide supervision or lifeguards
- Swimming pool accidents & drowning
- Improper hiring
- Failure to perform background checks
- Sexual assault & molestation
- Violation of federal and state regulations
- Inadequate or negligent security
- Food poisoning
- Lack of safety equipment
- Unlicensed or improperly trained drivers
- Failure to inspect and control weapons or sharp objects
Who is Liable for Summer Camp Injuries?
When your child is injured at summer camp or school, one of your first questions might be, who is responsible. The answer to this question is the same as many other legal questions – “it depends.” The summer camp or school has a legal obligation to keep the children in their charge reasonably safe from harm. This includes ensuring that equipment is properly maintained and inspected, as well as ensuring staff is adequately trained.
In some situations, there might be an unknown defect in the camp equipment. If the camp administrators could not have discovered the defective equipment through a reasonable inspection, the manufacturer could be held liable.
There are third parties other than equipment manufacturers that could be held responsible for a child’s injury. For example, if your child suffered food poisoning and an outside caterer could be held accountable. Every injury will present a unique set of facts. The key in any personal injury case is a thorough investigation of the surrounding circumstances and events leading up to a preventable accident. Our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys have the skill, experience, and resources to carefully examine an accident to determine what parties should be held accountable.
Summer Camp Waivers
When you send your child to summer camp, you will likely have to sign a liability waiver. Waivers are designed to help protect camp facilities, their administrators, and employees from lawsuits. Depending on what occurred and the provisions of the liability waiver, you could be barred from taking legal action. However, waivers are not an absolute barrier to holding negligent parties liable for their actions. Typically, a waiver is only binding if it adheres to several conditions.
- The injury must have resulted from a known risk. The potential risk should have also been clearly described in the provisions of the liability waiver
- The waiver does not violate any state or federal laws.
- The waiver did not contain any vague or ambiguous language.
It is also important to understand that a waiver does not protect a grossly negligent party from accountability. A liability waiver is not a free pass to permit your child to engage in unsupervised activities or neglect maintaining the camp facilities. The crucial phrase in any waiver is “reasonable risk.” Our experienced Philadelphia summer camp injury attorneys are familiar with waivers and how to combat their terms and conditions.
Contact Our Philadelphia Summer Camp Injury Lawyers if Your Child Suffered a Preventable Injury
If your child has been catastrophically injured or wrongfully killed while attending school or camp, the experienced Philadelphia catastrophic injury lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to help you. We will fully investigate your claim and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. As parents and trial lawyers with experience dealing with the unimaginable tragedies involving children and teenagers, we understand the devastation, pain, and mental anguish an injury to your child may bring to your whole family. We believe school and camp operators should take every possible precaution to ensure the safety and well-being of students. For over thirty years, our aggressive catastrophic injury lawyers have advocated for child safety and have won hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of catastrophically injured or wrongfully killed victims and their families. Our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers will fight for you and make sure that negligent schools and camps are held responsible for their irresponsibility and to make sure innocent children are not injured or wrongfully killed at their hands again. To schedule an appointment, call (215) 709-6940.