Is a Summer Camp Liable When a Child Fractures a Bone During Camp Activities?

Soccer Ball on Grass and Line
Summer Camp Injuries

During the summer months, children attend camp. Some cancer overnight camps. Others are day camps. There are variety of camps in virtually every community needs in the United States. With almost any activity at camp, there is a risk of injury. Unfortunately, some children fracture arms, legs, and other body parts while participating in summer camp related activities. Does this mean that the summer camp is liable or responsible for these injuries? Well, like many legal issues and questions, it depends on the facts or circumstances. Let’s say a child is at a summer camp playing goalie with other children of his size and age group. While attempting to block a ball, the goalie fractures or breaks his arm. The injury took place during a supervised game and was essentially an inherent risk of the game or activity. Under these general facts and circumstances, it would not appear that the summer camp would have any liability for the injuries suffered by the child. When the facts and circumstances are changed a bit, there could be a case or claim to pursue on behalf of the injured child. Let’s say that the goalie is 6 years old. The person taking the shot is a 17 year old counselor in training who happens to be a very good soccer player. The counselor in training takes a very hard shot on this undersized and young goalie. The sheer force of the shot breaks the child’s arm which results in a complicated surgery. Under these general facts, the theory would be that the counselor in training was careless or negligent in taking such a hard shot on goal. It should be noted that very few cases are clear cut one way or the other. In other words, each case should be evaluated on its own particular facts and merits. Furthermore, there is rarely a case in which there is no way to lose the case if it is pursued. Most cases can be and are challenged by the summer camp and the insurance company. A Florida Child Injury Lawyer experienced with these cases should have a good grip as to which cases to take and which cases to turn down. Of course, a Child Injury Lawyer should never guarantee a result.

Like other personal injury cases, a case against a Summer Camp will require proof of the following four elements:

  1. Duty;
  2. Breach of Duty;
  3. Causation; and
  4. Damages.

If a summer camp does something wrong, this does not by itself necessary result in a viable case or claim. Certainly, a summer camp should take reasonable and necessary steps to provide the health, safety, and welfare of each and every child / camper. At times, mistakes are made. At times, summer camps get lucky and avoid being sued or avoid a claim since there were were resulting damages or harm. For instance, let’s say that a child wanders away from summer camp and into a parking lot. The child is located by a parent who happened to be picking up her child. The parent brought the wandering child back into the summer camp office. The child was in the parking lot for just a few minutes. The wandering child suffered no physical injuries. While the child was upset, there were really no long term emotional effects from the brief ordeal. Under this general fact pattern, there is no viable case OR not much of a viable case to pursue. Certainly, the summer camp failed to properly supervise these wandering child but nothing resulted from the mistake, negligence, and carelessness. Let’s change the facts a bit. Let’s say a child wanders away from a summer camp and then his hit by a vehicle causing a fractured or broken leg. The difference between these two hypothetical cases is in the form of damages. One child suffered a serious personal injury (i.e. broken leg) while the other child was sparred any serious personal or emotional harm.

The book titled - The ABCs of Child Injury - Legal Rights of the Injured Child - What Every Parent Should Know - has chapters on Automobile Accidents, Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.