Many people in the State of Alabama send their children to either day or overnight summer camp. Parents view summer camps as a great way for children to enjoy nature, play sports, meet new friends, and have new experiences during their summers off from school. Unfortunately, things can go wrong at summer camp that can injure, or even kill your child. The Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham personal injury attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt protect the rights of you and your children.
The owners and employees of summer camp may not be legally responsible for every injury your child receives at camp. Injuries can occur while your child is engaging in activities that are reasonably expected to occur at camp—for example, if your child breaks an arm while sliding onto home plate during a baseball game. However, owners and employees at a summer camp do have a duty to provide a reasonable standard of care towards your child. If the camp breaches this duty as a result of negligent or reckless behavior, and your child gets injured, you probably can seek compensation from the camp for the injuries. An example of a summer camp breaching its duty of reasonable care would be failing to provide the proper amount of lifeguards at a deep lake.
When a Summer Camp is Negligent
Typical summer camp injuries include drowning, trip and falls, infections, bus accidents, brain or spinal cord injuries, or even physical or sexual abuse. In many cases, if your child has suffered injuries at summer camp it is because the camp acted negligently. A summer camp is negligent if it has breached a duty of care, and your child gets injured because of the breach. If the camp is found to have acted negligently, it may be liable for damages. Summer camps are often negligent in many ways.
One way the camp may be negligent is by failing to hire sufficient supervision for the children. If the camp is understaffed and there are not enough people watching the children—particularly for inherently dangerous activities such as swimming or rock climbing—then, the camp may be negligent. Or the camp may hire counselors and other staffers that are poorly trained or who haven’t been subject to the proper background check.Negligent hiring can often result in instances of physical or sexual abuse for which the camp may be liable.
Summer camps may also be negligent for failing to keep their grounds in a reasonably safe condition. Many accidents occur when children trip and fall over the terrain in a summer camp. If the camp fails to maintain its grounds properly, that can also be the basis for negligence. The camp may also have failed to keep its equipment in a reasonably safe condition. Swimming pools, sports equipment, and rope courses are examples of equipment that the camp must maintain in a reasonably safe condition. Anything that your child is expected to use at camp must be maintained and kept in a reasonably safe manner.
Waivers of Liability at Summer Camp
Many parents who send their children to summer camp may have signed a waiver often included in the documents that the camp sent you. A waiver is a legal document that absolves the party offering a certain activity from any liability for injuries that the person participating in the activity may receive. It’s important to discuss any waiver you have signed with your lawyer if your child gets injured. For the most part, a waiver of liability for injuries will not be upheld if the injuries were found to have been caused by the camp’s negligence. A court will scrutinize the waiver carefully to make sure the camp has not taken advantage of you by attempting to have you sign away your right to pursue a claim for negligence. On the other hand, some waivers do hold up in court. There may be language in the waiver called an “assumption of risk.” An assumption of risk says you have assumed the normal and expected risk for certain activities that occur at camp and that you won’t hold the camp legally responsible for injuries that occur from these activities. If your child gets injured and you cannot show that the camp was negligent, then you probably won’t be able to sue the camp for your child’s injuries. It’s important to speak with an experienced lawyer, like the lawyers at Farris, Riley & Pitt to determine what your legal rights are in this situation.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If a tragedy has occurred and your child has died as a result of a summer camp injury, then you may be eligible to bring a lawsuit for wrongful death. The laws governing your wrongful death lawsuit will depend on where the accident happened. If the summer camp was outside the State of Alabama, then the laws of that state will apply. If the accident occurred at a camp located within the State of Alabama, then Alabama law will apply.
Under the wrongful death laws of the State of Alabama, in the case of the death of a minor child, the custodial parents may sue for wrongful death.If you are not the custodial parent of the child, then you must be the child’s legal personal representative in order to sue for wrongful death.
The State of Alabama has laws on wrongful death that are different than virtually all other states. It’s important to find a lawyer, like the lawyers at Farris, Riley & Pitt, who is skilled in the area of wrongful death of a child. The biggest difference in Alabama law is that a survivor can only sue for punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages that are intended to punish the negligent party for their actions and to prevent others from repeating the behavior in the future. They are not the type of damages meant to compensate survivors for medical bills, lost wages or pain and suffering, known as compensatory damages. Depending on the facts of your individual case, a punitive damage award can often far exceed an award for only compensatory damages.
There is an exception to the punitive damages only rule, however. The exception occurs if you have already commenced a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your child for injuries sustained in a camp accident and your child dies from those injuries. In this situation, you may continue to seek whatever damages you specified in your lawsuit. You can also add a claim for wrongful death to the existing lawsuit and seek punitive damages as well.
How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit for Summer Camp Injuries in Alabama?
Generally speaking, the time in which a person must file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in the State of Alabama is short. A law called the Statute of Limitations governs this period. However, many factors can affect the time in which to file a lawsuit in any given case. It is important that you consult with an attorney experienced in child camp injuries immediately after your child has been injured. Your attorney will want to start immediately investigating the facts of your case and gathering evidence. It is important to do so as soon after the event as possible. Meeting with a lawyer will help you to avoid the possibility that you will run out of time to file a lawsuit and lose the opportunity to pursue your legal right against the camp.
Contact Us for Help
Since the firm opened its doors in 1996, the talented lawyers at Farris, Riley & Pitt have been expertly handling personal injury cases, including those occurring as a result of a child camp accident.The caring and compassionate attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt know a child’s injury or in the worst scenario, death can affect a child’s parents and extended family. It is a terrible event to endure, and you will need all the resources you can get to go through it. Your child’s hospital bills, medical expenses and the lost wages you may incur can be financially devastating to a family. The mental and emotional toll from knowing that a camp’s negligence hurt your child can also be overwhelming.
Let Alabama lawyers Farris, Riley&Pitt help you to pursue justice for yourself and on behalf of your injured child. For a free evaluation and to learn more about whether you have a claim in the event your child gets injured in a summer camp accident, contact the lawyers at Farris, Riley & Pitt today. You can call us at 205-324-1212 or toll-free at 1-888-580-5176. You can reach our knowledgeable legal staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling our toll-free lawyer assistance line at 1-888-937-7534.