Teenager Suffers Serious Injuries in Boating Accident at Summer Camp

    Boating Expert WitnessThis extreme sports case involves a teenage guest at a summer camp in southern Florida who was seriously injured while on a water skiing outing with camp staff. The boat that was used to conduct the trip was operated by two members of the camp’s staff, neither of whom held a boating license or had any record of appropriate safety training. At the time of the accident, the teenage Plaintiff was being towed behind the boat at a high rate of speed when his leg suddenly became trapped in the tow line. The Plaintiff was pulled underwater for a considerable distance, and suffered a massive degloving injury on his leg. It was alleged that the camp did not take the proper measures to ensure the safety of campers who participated in water skiing. A boating safety expert was sought for this case.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please discuss your background in setting safety policies in a camp setting.
    • 2. What procedures are in place to prevent an accident such as the one described in the case from occurring?

    Expert Witness Response E-008664

    As the Director of a children’s summer camp for the past 19 I have been intricately involved in both establishing and ensuring compliance with safety standards in all aspects of the camp’s operation. Prior to becoming a camp director, I also served for over 15 years as in-house legal counsel to a major insurance company, wherein I was called upon to both evaluate and restructure risk components of various operations. I don’t know whether this particular camp is accredited by the American Camp Association, the accrediting body for the camping industry. The ACA establishes standards that serve as best practices and procedures for each component of a camp operation. The applicable standards for this matter involve the overall purpose of risk management in a camp setting, which is set forth in section OM.1 of the standards book. Of more particular applicability are several subsections which deal specifically with Aquatic Supervision and Motorized Watercraft Activities. From the brief description of the incident provided it would appear preliminarily that there may have been a failure to have a properly qualified operator of the motorized watercraft, improper or inadequate training, and possibly a lack of proper supervision in the towable. These possible violations are all covered under the guidelines and standards of the ACA as well as common practices in the industry.

    Expert Bio

    This highly qualified expert graduated with a BA in Political Science from Brooklyn College, City University of New York and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He subsequently practiced law for the following 20 years. Currently, he is the Executive Director at an ACA accredited summer camp, which he has managed and operated since 1996. At this co-ed overnight camp, he oversees all operations and safety protocols of the staff and 300 campers.

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