Summer camps, whether sleep away or day camps, are a great adventure for kids and teens looking for a fun escape during the summer. Unfortunately, there are a number of injuries that kids can suffer while away at camp, especially if the camp counselors and other staff do not follow proper safety protocols, and fail to provide proper supervision. In the State of Maryland camp programs are heavily regulated and inspected. This is important, but unfortunately, we are called upon almost every year to represent families of children who are seriously injured at camps in Maryland.
My advice for parents is that you should not blindly trust that the camp will keep your kids safe. Tell your kids to tell you about their daily activities at camp, and if something does not sound right, contact the Camp Director immediately or visit the camp to see exactly what is going on.
Some of the most common summer camp injuries include:
Drowning and Swimming Pool-Related Injuries – The swimming pool area is one of the most common places for serious accidents to occur. Camp-related aquatic accidents also commonly occur at lakes ponds and quarries. Children at camp often have varying levels of swimming ability and require close supervision while around water.
Generally speaking, camp swim programs are regulated in Maryland by the Code of Maryland Regulations and the following is required: (i) A director must be present, (ii) a detailed safety plan must be developed and implemented providing for testing of swimming ability, equipment maintenance, supervision ratios, etc. (See COMAR 10.16.06.47 (A) (2)). Additional requirements are that a lifeguard be present, counselors over age of 16 be by the poolside, and individuals trained in CPR be available. (See COMAR 10.16.06.47 (C)). Generally, the staff supervision ratio for swimming activities is one staff per 10 campers.
A near-drowning accident can leave a child with permanent brain damage that will have a substantial impact on the rest of their life and will require significant long-term medical treatment.
Slip and Fall / Playground Equipment Injuries– Summer camp is an exciting place for kids who often run from location to location throughout the day. Poorly kept grounds and dangerous playground equipment can lead to serious injuries for children. This type of accident can cause cuts, scratches and broken bones. More serious accidents can cause brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and other serious conditions. Most summer camps also have a wide variety of sporting and outdoor equipment. When these tools are misused or if children are not properly supervised while using them, serious injuries can occur.
Child Abuse – When summer camps fail to conduct background checks on their employees, it is all too easy for a staff member to commit abusive acts, whether physical, sexual or verbal, toward children.
Heat Stroke or Severe Sunburn – Summer campers spend a significant amount of time out in the sun and heat. When camp staff fails to ensure kids are properly hydrated and that sunscreen is regularly applied, the consequences can be devastating. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that is easily preventable.
Summer camps have a responsibility to maintain a safe and secure environment for the children who are attending. When they fail in this obligation by having poorly trained staff, failing to maintain safe premises, failing to conduct background checks on staff or not properly supervising children, they can be held liable for any serious injuries that occur.
The experienced team of Washington D.C. personal injury lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan can help you seek justice and fair compensation if your child has been injured, drowned or died while at summer camp. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.