From day camps in local parks to week long wilderness excursions, summer camps are an annual rite for about six million American children. These environments are great places for children to forge relationships and develop life skills.
Unfortunately, the student-staff ratio is usually rather high. Additionally, staff members, who are often volunteers, are usually poorly trained when it comes to emergency situations. And, since the nearest medical attention is usually many miles away, if things go wrong, they can end very badly.
A Rockford personal injury attorney cannot turn back the clock and reverse an injury. But an attorney can obtain compensation and justice for victims. The compensation normally includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. The justice helps ensure – future campers will not be injury victims.
Overall lack of supervision contributes to many camper-on-camper assaults. If staff members do not break up petty disagreements, they often become violent. And, when a small child is concerned, a small amount of force is enough to cause a profoundly serious injury.
Legally, the assault is not just between the two people involved. If the camp coordinator or owner knew or should have known about the potential problem, the owner is financially responsible for damages.
The distance from medical help, along with the vulnerable nature of these victims, transforms routine slip-and-fall incidents into serious injury situations. Some serious fall injuries include:
- Head Injuries: The falling motion alone is usually enough to cause a serious head injury. That motion causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull.
- Broken Bones: Unless broken bones receive immediate attention, doctors generally must use metal screws or pins to set them. Furthermore, even after extensive physical therapy, some permanent loss of use is typically inevitable.
- Brachial Plexus Injuries: When people fall, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls. That reaction usually causes permanent nerve damage in the brachial plexus area under the arm.
Falls from a height, especially play equipment, are usually a problem at summer camps as well. That’s especially true if, as is usually the case, the play equipment is on the hard ground or another hard surface.
In terms of liability, state laws vary on this subject. Illinois’ premises liability laws are broader than most other states’ laws. In the Prairie State, if the victim was legally on the land, the owner has a duty of reasonable care to provide for the victim’s safety.
Victim/plaintiffs must also prove the landowner knew about the fall or other hazard. Evidence on this point can be direct, like a “smoking gun” memo, or circumstantial, like the time-notice rule.
Many camps have either no lifeguards or perhaps one or two lifeguards to watch dozens of children at a time. Making matters worse, summer camp swim areas are often lakes or ponds with uneven bottoms.
A few moments under the water is usually enough to cause a permanent brain injury. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate. Physical therapy can ease the symptoms, but this therapy must be very extensive. Brain injury physical therapy is nothing like broken bone physical therapy. Brain injury therapists must slowly train uninjured areas of the brain to assume lost functions.
The same legal principles discussed above usually apply in drowning claims as well. If the summer camp had a “No Lifeguard On Duty” or other warning sign, compensation is still available, but it is easier for the insurance company to prove the assumption of the risk defense.
Contact a Savvy Attorney
Generally, summer camp owners are legally responsible for summer camp injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Rockford personal injury lawyer, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. Home and hospital visits are available.