Camping trips offer a variety of activities which the whole family can enjoy. Every summer, families travel from New York City to the numerous camping locations scattered throughout the state. Any responsible camper knows to be prepared for the dangers of the wilderness. But even well-prepared campers can be susceptible to unexpected camping accidents caused by someone else’s negligence.
Campgrounds have a responsibility to do all that they can to keep their guests safe while they’re on site. Your fellow campers also have a duty to act responsibly in order to avoid causing accidents which could result in serious injuries. If another party fails to meet this duty and ends up causing an accident, anyone who suffers an injury as a result could have a case for a personal injury claim.
Common Campsite Hazards
In order to keep guests safe, camp sites should be regularly maintained and supervised for hazards which could cause injuries. Common hazards which frequently lead to camping injuries include:
- Campfires – If a campsite provides their own firepits for guest use, then they should be built safely and properly maintained. Some campsites may allow guests to build their own fires. It’s important for all campers to be educated in how to safely build, maintain, and put out fires. If a campground fails to provide safe firepits, or if another camper causes a fire to spread, they could be held liable for any camper injuries which result.
- Ticks and Lyme Disease – Anytime you’re out in the woods, there is the risk of contracting Lyme disease from contact with ticks. While this risk is an inherent part of camping, campgrounds should have staff on hand who know how to remove ticks and how to recognize the signs of Lyme disease. This is especially important in children’s summer camps.
- Dangerous Wildlife – Contact with dangerous wildlife is another inherent risk of camping, but campgrounds should be equally prepared to prevent and respond to dangerous wildlife accidents. Trashcans should be properly secured so that bears and other dangerous predators aren’t attracted to campsites. Campgrounds should also have proper first aid response systems in place for incidents involving contact with dangerous wildlife, such as bites from spiders, insects, and snakes.
- Falling Trees – A falling tree may seem like an unpredictable act of God, but this is not always the case. Trees often take a long time to actually fall, and well-trained campsite staff should be able to recognize the warning signs. If a tree is in danger of falling, it should be cut down before it injures someone.
Camping comes with a variety of inherent risks, but these risks can be minimized if campground management and staff members take the proper safety measures to protect their guests. While some accidents are unpredictable, many others could have easily been prevented if the campground had properly recognized and responded to the hazards which caused the accident.
Child Summer Camp Accidents & Injuries
Each summer, busy New York City parents send their kids away to overnight summer camps. Ideally, these camps provide our children with an opportunity to make new friends, learn new things, and have enriching experiences in nature. However, not all children’s summer camps are run as safely as they should be, and sometimes kids end up getting hurt.
Examples of child summer camp accidents and injuries include:
Fire safety is always important, but especially when children are involved. Summer camps should always have attentive staff members supervising children around fires to make sure they don’t burn themselves. Additionally, staff members should be properly trained in how to properly build and maintain fires.
Drowning and Water Accidents
A swimming pool or natural body of water is always the crown jewel of any children’s summer camp. Kids should never be allowed in the water without supervision and there should be trained lifeguards on duty who know how to respond to emergencies. If counselors are taking kids out on boats or other water vehicles, they should be properly trained in how to operate them. Additionally, there should be proper safety equipment on board, such as life-jackets and floaties.
Kids may injure themselves in serious falls on defective playground equipment, slippery surfaces, walking obstructions, or falls from heights (such as from a waterfall). The risk of falls can be limited by proper supervision, regular inspections of equipment, and a regular maintenance to remove slip or trip and fall hazards.
Insect, Tick, Spider, and Snake bites
Bites are an inherent risk of camping, but camp staff should be properly trained in how to prevent, recognize, and respond to bites. Campers should be provided with insect repellant and tick-protective clothing should be worn in areas with known populations of infectious deer ticks.
In 2013, a New York City family sued a teenage summer camp in Connecticut for nearly $42 million after their daughter contracted Lyme disease. The girl was not provided with repellant or tick-resistant clothing, and camp nurses failed to recognize her symptoms of Lyme disease, so she was denied proper medical care.
When you’re leaving your child in the care of others, it’s your biggest fear to find out that they’ve been abused. Tragically, cases of child sexual abuse at summer camps have made headlines around the country in recent years. Summer camps have a duty to do all that they can to protect kids from verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. Every children’s summer camp should take the following preventative measures:
- Properly screen employees for criminal histories
- Prohibit isolated one-on-one time between counselors and children
- Have staff trained in how to recognize the signs of child abuse
- Take children’s claims of child abuse seriously
It’s disheartening and frustrating to learn that your child has been injured or abused while in the care of people you trusted with their safety. We understand how angry you may feel. That’s why our experienced personal injury lawyers are determined to earn justice for families affected by camp injuries and abuse.
Who Might Be Liable For My Injury?
Determining liability for camping accidents and injuries is in complex and varies greatly depending on circumstances. Some accidents may be determined acts of God, while others could have easily been prevented if it weren’t for a negligent party. When negligence is to blame, there are a few possible parties which could be held liable.
Just like a hotel or any other business, campground owners owe a duty of care to their guests. This means that they must do everything they can to prevent accidents and injuries, and have the proper response systems in place when a camper does get injured. If a campground fails to meet this duty, they may be considered negligent and held liable for damages.
Common examples of campground negligence include:
- Fire safety hazards
- Unsecured or improperly maintained trash receptacles
- Inadequate or poorly trained staff
- Poorly maintained hiking trails
- Lack of safety signs
All campers also owe a duty of care to each other. Just like drivers owe it to each other to drive safely and responsibly, campers must behave safely and responsibly in order to limit the risk of a serious accident. If a fellow camper acts irresponsibly, causes an accident, and someone else gets hurt, they may be held liable for injury-related damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Tour companies which run guided hikes, sporting activities, and other physical excursions must also have a plan for keeping their customers safe. In 2014, a Westchester family reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against a Hawaii tour company after their son was swept away at sea during a hiking and kayaking tour. The family’s attorneys argued that the company failed to run a background check on the employee (who had three previous drug convictions), that the tour took too many people and stayed in the area too long, and that they were unaware of warnings of high surf.
Do I Have A Case For A Lawsuit?
If you believe that your accident was the result of human error, rather than an unavoidable act of nature, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Determining how an accident happened always takes careful investigation, and there are often multiple causes. Some cases are more clear than others, but it would be wise to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer with knowledge of camping accident liability.
At Lipsig, our personal injury lawyers know how to properly investigate accidents and how to gather the evidence you need for a successful lawsuit. We’re more than happy to evaluate your case in a free consultation, and will only request payment if and when we help you earn compensation.