When summer rolls around, so do Arizona summer camps. From sports camps to art camps to religion-based camps, children and parents have many options. Regardless of what summer camp you choose to send your child to, you expect that they will not only have fun but they will be safe, and well looked after.
However, sending a child to summer camp is not without risk. Most summer camp staff try to do what is needed to keep the children in their care safe, accidents still happen. While it’s common for children to suffer minor injuries during the various activities at summer camp, things get much more complicated when a child sustains a serious injury.
Most summer camps require parents to sign liability waivers to shield themselves against liability for injuries to the children at camp. The contents of waivers tend to vary, but most will say that parents sign away their right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the camp if their child is negligently injured because the parents are assuming the risk of injury.
Importantly these documents do not always hold up in court. If the camp staff was negligent and your child was injured because of their negligence, the liability waivers often are invalid.. Liability waivers never cover intentional or malicious negligence. In Arizona, we have an Arizona Constitutionally guaranteed right to assert an injury claim that no lesser law can prevent. Summer camps make it seem as though their liability waiver is ironclad, but the truth is that parents usually cannot sign away all rights to pursue a legal remedy if their child is injured, especially when the nature and extent of the risk of injury was not known and understood ahead of time so that “assumption of risk” applies.. The waiver goal is to discourage parents from taking legal action but smart parents will check with a lawyer before assuming the language in the waiver is binding.
Now that you know that summer camps are not always legally protected when a child is injured, the next question is: who is responsible (liable) for your child’s summer camp injury? When a child is injured at camp, the specific circumstances of the accident are vitally important to answer this question. Get photos of the accident scene and talk to any witnesses ASAP, perhaps obtain audio recorded or written witness statements from the most important witnesses (but not from young children without their parent(s) being present and giving authorization) if your child’s injury is severe. It is possible that one, two or more parties may be liable for the child’s injury for failure to safely supervise the activity, lack of training for the staff or the child as to the activity, unsafe conditions on the premises, etc. Talking to a lawyer ASAP is often free (it is free with Jensen Phelan injury specialist lawyers) and is very important.
Depending on the circumstances which lead to your child being injured, the summer camp’s owner, tenant or caretaker may be liable for damages under premises liability laws. Premises liability is the legal principle that holds those in control of the property responsible for the safety of their patrons and invited guests to warn or protect them from known (or should have been known) dangerst. The summer camp owner, tenant or employee (whose employer is usually liable for the employee’s negligence if done in the course and scope of the employment) is legally obligated to warn of the dangers and/or keep the campgrounds safe and free of hazards or obstacles to ensure they are easy to navigate for the campers. If your child is injured because of a problem with the property and the owner had prior knowledge or should have reasonably known of the problem, you may be able to pursue a premises liability claim. “Open and obvious dangers, such as an easily visible hole, may prevent liability due to the “assumption of risk” rule of law.
When you send a child to camp, you entrust the camp organizers, counselors, and staff with the safety and care of your child. Sometimes the camp staff is the reason your child is injured.. Maybe a staff member isn’t paying enough attention. Other times they’re not adequately trained. Sometimes lower level staff should be supervised by their superiors. Whatever the reason, if it falls under the theory of staff negligence, they can potentially be held legally liable for damages.
Sometimes the events that lead to your child’s injury may involve multiple negligent parties as indicated above. Liability can be complex when dealing with injuries suffered at summer camp if there is evidence to support that more than one person’s negligence is involved. If so, allocation of the different negligent causes is needed, with the total to be 100%. An example is when a 10 yr. old child is injured from running into a rock that is not easily visible while playing ball, the negligent parties might be the immediate camp counsellor supervising the activity for choosing that location and not warning the children about that somewhat hidden hazzard, the person in control of the property for not safeguarding that known hazzard or relocating the ball field to a safer place, and perhaps even for the child if the rock was easily visible and well known to exist. If these facts were true, the liability allocation might be: counselor 50%, property owner/controler 50%, child (who is too young t 10 yrs. Old to really recognize and understand the risk) 0%.
It’s essential for parents to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible because of the complicated nature of summer camp injuries and the fact that the facts in this type of situation “evaporate” due to the age of witnesses, lack of accident report at many camps, etc. Parents can benefit from a specialist attorney who understands the law, summer camp waivers, how to collect the evidence quickly and the best way for families to recover just compensation.
Serious summer camp injury claims can be extremely complicated and often deeply emotional. At Jensen Phelan Law Firm, our attorneys know that families need strong and reliable legal support to fight for their right to compensation and get justice for their children. Our specialist personal injury lawyers have the experience and passion needed to build strong claims against campsite owners, camp staff, and anyone else who may be liable for your child’s injury.
For a free assessment of your case and explanation of your rights, call us at (928) 778-2660 or fill out our contact form.