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My Child Was Injured at Summer Camp. Who’s Responsible?

child on swing

What’s not to love about summer? School’s in the back of the mind, and the only real responsibility is to have fun—be that in the sun or however you and your family see fit. Visit pools and amusement parks! Sit around late-evening bonfires! Go camping in the beautiful hills of southern Indiana!

Additionally, some kids look forward to summer because of that week-long (or longer) stretch smack in the middle where they leave the home entirely and go to summer camp.

Though you might secretly enjoy the extra peace and quiet, perhaps you’ve got a gnawing question: what if your child is injured at summer camp?

If your child is injured at summer camp, there are many parties who could share liability, and possibly many avenues to recover damages.

Premises Liability: Responsibility and Negligence Collide

person rock climbing

At its core, premises liability revolves around the idea that venue and property owners carry a certain level of responsibility to ensure the safety of their patrons. This applies to stadiums, churches, amusement parks, grocery stores, schools, and, of course, summer campgrounds.

Owners need to keep grounds clean, free of dangerous elements and obstacles, and easily navigable. Some of the most frequent premises liability issues are slip and fall accidents, where the property owner was negligent and didn’t clean up a spill or mark that the floor was wet.

Property owners need to perform—or facilitate the performance of—routine maintenance on all aspects of their establishment. If your child falls and hurts themselves on faulty or out-of-date playground equipment, and the owners knew about the state of the equipment, then they’re likely liable for any injuries your child may suffer as a result.

The camp owners may share some liability if your child is injured while at camp. You should be able to file a personal injury claim through the camp owner’s insurance and recover your child’s medical bills and other damages.

However, there may be other parties who could share liability for your child’s injury.

Camp Counselors and Negligence

people having fun in water

You ought to contextualize your child’s injury to the specific circumstances surrounding it. Not all injuries on someone else’s property are completely the owner’s fault.

Let’s consider this example. Say the camp counselor overseeing your child’s group doesn’t do a head count before heading back from a nature walk and leaves your child behind. As a result, your child is injured trying to find their way back on their own.

Because the counselor has neglected their basic duty of supervision, they would be liable for your child’s injuries (the camp organizers would share liability because they were responsible for hiring the negligent counselor).

Now consider this example. Say the camp has a strict “No running on the docks” rule, complete with signs and lifeguards. If your child refuses to obey the rules and injures themselves while running on the docks, your child would shoulder some of the blame.

Venue owners are not liable for their patron’s own informed and reckless behavior. However, some liability could also land with your child’s counselor if they were supposed to be monitoring your child, or the lifeguards who were on duty, and of course the camp organizers.

Recovering damages from multiple parties may be tricky. A premises liability attorney can help you navigate the claims process and will negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

If a counselor or another camper hurts your child on purpose, it would veer more toward a criminal case of assault, as opposed to a personal injury or premises liability case.

Camp Owners vs. Trip Organizers

child playing

There’re a couple of ways a venue owner can be responsible, even in scenarios where the specific trip isn’t run by the owners themselves.

Say your child’s camping experience is organized by your church’s youth group. It’s possible that the church or the youth group leaders could be liable for your child’s injuries while on the trip.

It isn’t uncommon to sign a waiver releasing the organizers from any liability from injuries, damage or loss of property, and so on. In these cases you may have to rely on your own health insurance to cover your child’s medical bills. However, if your child is injured due to the negligence of the organizer, you may still be able to recover damages even if you signed a waiver.

Every case is different. If you aren’t sure where to turn after your child has been injured, our personal injury attorneys may be able to help determine who is liable, and how you can recover. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.