Summer is just around the corner and kids in Pennsylvania and New Jersey will be spending days at various summer camps. For most kids, their summer camp experiences will be pleasant, filled with fun activities both indoors and outdoors. However, some kids will become injured in preventable accidents. In fact, child injuries increase in the summer months.
Parents whose child was injured at a summer camp often want to know whether their child has any legal rights for their injuries. Oftentimes, they do. Below, we take a look at some common summer camp accident scenarios and discuss children’s legal rights.
Does a Waiver of Liability Bar Your Child’s Injury Claim in PA or NJ?
At the outset, it is important to note that waivers of liability are often at issue in any child injury case, whether it’s an accident that occurs at a summer camp or an indoor park. After a child injury occurs, one of the first things a parent will ask is whether their child’s claim is barred because the parent signed a waiver of liability for the child. The vast majority of businesses which are tailored to children, such as summer camps, gyms, etc., require waivers of liability before a child is allowed to participate.
Parents often sign waivers of liability on behalf of their children. Oftentimes, courts will not uphold a waiver of liability against a child, even if the child signed the waiver. In other words, children are legally incapable of understanding, let alone, waiving their legal rights. Historically, courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have found that parents are unable to sign away the legal rights of their children. However, waivers of liability are often upheld against the parent and are therefore likely to bar any claims the parent may have against the defendant. The laws regarding waivers of liability as a bar to a lawsuit often change. Therefore, it is crucial to seek advice of a lawyer to determine whether a waiver of liability applies in a given case.
Related: Playground Accidents & Injuries
Sports Accident Injuries at a Day Camp
A 10 year old child attends an all-day summer camp at a local school in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The summer camp is designed to help children develop their sports skills. The child is grouped with much older, more skilled children. He is injured while playing a basketball game when he is pushed to the ground by a significantly older, larger child. He falls and suffers a serious head injury.
Fall Accident Injuries at an Indoor Camp
A young child attends a summer camp for young children at an indoor camp in New Jersey. The child slips and falls while walking to the bathroom. Due to a leak in a water fountain, water has accumulated on the floor to such a degree that a puddle has formed on the floor. The child lands on his wrist, breaking it.
Liability for Negligence
In both of these situations, the facts indicate that the camps would be liable for negligence. In the sports accident example, the child should not have been grouped with older children whose skill levels far exceeded his own. This is a common cause of sports accidents, failing to assess a child’s skill and failing to match a child with similarly skilled children. In the fall accident example, the water on the floor was a foreseeable hazard that should have been resolved.
The child in both of the examples would likely have valid legal claims against the camps, even if they or their parents signed the waiver of liability.
Financial Claims for Compensation
Children who are injured due to the negligence of another party, such as a summer camp or business, may be able to obtain financial compensation for their injuries. Common claims for compensation in child injury cases include medical bills and pain and suffering, i.e., the physical pain and emotional trauma caused by an accident and injuries.
Oftentimes, summer camps and businesses which cater to children obtain commercial insurance which kicks in when a child is injured. What most people don’t know is that the insurance policy is the true source of any financial recovery. For example, a child who is injured in a summer camp accident files a negligence claim against the company which operated the camp. The company is insured under a general commercial liability policy. The insurance company is the source of any financial compensation award.
In some instances, commercial insurance companies may be willing to settle a claim without court involvement. If there is sufficient proof of negligence and the injuries, the insurance company may be willing to settle the claim before the injured party files the lawsuit or shortly afterwards.
Child Injury & Accident – Legal Help
If your child was injured at a camp or daycare setting, please contact our injury lawyers for a free consultation. The firm has offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware. Click To Call
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Page last reviewed and updated: June 20, 2017