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Can a Day Care Center, Summer Camp, or School Be Held Liable if a Child Suffers Sunburn or Burn Related Injuries?

By  David Wolf, Attorney

Bandage Child InjuryDuring the summer months, the temperature in various parts of the United States can easily exceed 100 degrees.  For children, especially those prone or susceptible to sunburn complications, the hot summer weather combined with poor supervision and common sense on the part of child care providers can combine to produce some significant sunburn related injuries.  Some sunburn injuries are so bad that they require medical care from an emergency room and / or a pediatrician. Certainly, a child can become sunburn when there is an extended time of play, sports, or outdoor activity.  The pursuit a claim or case will depend on the particular facts and circumstances as well as the significance of the injuries.  If a 8 year old child comes home with a mild sunburn, this by itself would not warrant – for practical reasons – the pursuit of a claim or a case.  However, if the child returns home with severe burns to the point that there is exposed skin and large painful blisters, then this situation could warrant the pursuit of an insurance claim or a potential lawsuit.
There are related type of summer time or warm weather injuries in the form of burn injuries.  This is distinguuished from sunburn injuries. For instance, let’s say that a child is playing on a slide that is plastic, rubber, or metal.  The slide is so hot that it causes second and third degree burns to the 4 year old child’s legs.  Under this fact pattern, the child care providers should have inspected the slide and taken measures to cool down the slide OR taken measures to close off the slide while it was too hot or dangerous for use by the children.
It was recently reported in Oklahoma that two children suffered severe sunburn injuries while attending a day care center / summer camp.  The photos of the children with the sunburn related blisters and injuries were posted on Facebook and went viral to some extent.  The children who sustained the injuriies were fair skinned.  The incident raises concerns and questions as to what the day care center / summer camp can do as to sun protection and sunscreen and what it cannot do.
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.
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