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More Than Sunburn and a Few Mosquito Bites: Summer Camp Injuries

Now that the school year is finally coming to an end, many Colorado parents are looking for enriching activities for their children to enjoy during the summer months, and many will send them to summer camp. According to the American Camp Association, more than 10 million children attend more than 12,000 summer camps each year.

group of boy campers

Some of the common illnesses and injuries children experience while at summer camp include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Trips, slips, and falls
  • Wounds from sharp objects
  • Head injuries
  • Sprains and broken bones
  • Running into a stationary object, like a tree
  • Horseplay during free time

Risk of Injury at Camp

Risk of injury is rarely a consideration for parents when they send their kids to summer camp, but most summer camps require parents to sign a waiver of liability form that releases the camp and its staff of responsibility for injuries that may occur on camp premises and/or during camp-related activities. Before parents sign, they need to know what they are signing.

Things to Consider Before You Sign a Waiver

When you sign a liability waiver, you’re signing a legally binding contract based upon state law. If your child gets injured, the courts will typically treat the waiver as a potentially legally binding contract, and apply contract as well as personal injury law to the facts of the case. When determining liability, a court may consider the following factors regarding the waiver you signed:

  • Enforceability
  • Voidability
  • Scope
  • Fraud

Besides the signed waiver, courts hearing injury cases based upon assumption of risk may also consider the following:

  • Public policy – Signing away a child’s rights in the waiver may be found to be against public policy by a court, although clauses limiting liability may be enforceable against parents.
  • Type of activity – Some courts will limit the liability of nonprofit organizations but will not give the same leeway to commercial ventures.
  • Clarity of the rights being waived – Boldface or highlighted language in waivers may indicate to a court that the parents were made aware of the potential risks associated with a certain activity and the rights that were being waived when the signed.
  • Ambiguous language – A waiver of liability form that is broadly or ambiguously worded may be held unenforceable by a court.

Summer camp is a great way for you children to spend time with other kids when school is out. But before you sign any waiver of liability regarding injuries, it’s a good idea to appreciate the risks of liability and always understand what you’re signing.

Image by Max Wolfe

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