Is There Insurance Coverage for a Summer Camp Accident?

Summer camp is just around the corner for millions of children across the State of Florida and around the country. Our Miami injury lawyers are frequently asked if there is insurance coverage for injuries when kids are hurt traveling to and from summer camp and on camping field trips. The acid test for every Miami children’s injury lawyer who sues summer camps–or cruise lines, and other businesses–is did the injury occur “in the course and scope” of the counselor’s duties? For nearly 25 years I have battled insurance companies on this issue and have learned that commercial insurance policies are designed to protect the insurance company’s profits–not the camps, not the counselors, and certainly not the injured campers. Camp Volunteer Causes Head-On Traffic Accident Recently a “Registered Volunteer” camp counselor for Troop 370 of the Boy Scouts of America, Alan Norton, was involved in a terrifying head-on collision. Mr. Norton was driving back from a Florida cemetery where he had been supervising a Boy Scout who had, over the course of eight visits, assisted in cleaning up a Florida cemetery, in hopes of earning an Eagle Scout Merit Badge. On the last and fateful visit, Mr. Norton had forgotten to photograph the cemetery to verify the Scout’s work, so he drove home to retrieve his camera with the intention of returning to the cemetery to take pictures. Photographing the work was mandated to verify that the Scout had in fact met his requirements. On the return drive, Mr. Norton hit Chris Hubner head-on, seriously injuring Mr. Hubner and himself. Mr. Hubner sued the Boy Scouts of America for his...

Suing Disney Cruise Lines

A cruise on the Disney Line’s Dream turned into a nightmare for a 13-year-old female passenger who was molested during her family’s vacation onboard the ship. Crew member Ahmed Sofyan, a resident of Jakarta, Indonesia, was arrested in Florida by the Port of Canaveral Police after being accused of molesting the child during their four-day cruise to the Bahamas. According to reports, he was arrested on two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment. Sofyan is currently incarcerated at the Brevard County Jail Complex. How long the crew member worked for Disney and the nature of his duties aboard the Dream are unknown at this time. Following his arrest, Disney’s issued the following statement: “We have no tolerance whatsoever for the behavior alleged in this incident . . . . We are sorry that anything of this nature could have occurred on one of our ships. We place enormous value on the trust our guests have in us, and nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of each and every one of our guests.” The case should serve as a warning to all parents that they must be vigilant aboard cruise ships just as though they were vacationing with their family at a hotel in a large city. Cruise ships often appear to be safe playgrounds, and parents–also in need of a vacation–want to believe that their children, teenaged and younger, are safe to wander the ship. As a lawyer who sues Disney, I recommend never leaving children alone and without parental supervision while onboard a cruise ship. Our thoughts...

Warning from Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers: Swim at Your Own Risk

Our cruise ship injury lawyers want to warn families about to take a cruise with their children to be extra careful to supervise them closely whenever they are using one of the ship’s swimming pools. This is especially important as virtually no cruise lines provide lifeguards. We find this extremely difficult to believe, especially in light of a number of recent tragedies that have killed and severely injured children who have drowned onboard cruise ships. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, death by drowning among children one to four accounts for more deaths than any other cause except birth defects. Yet currently no U.S. laws require cruise lines to provide lifeguards at their pools, and some of those ships carry hundreds or even thousands of children on every voyage. Boy Drowns on Norwegian Cruise Ship Our condolences go out to the family of a four-year-old boy who died aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway when he drowned in one of the ship’s swimming pools, off the coast of North Carolina. He and a six-year-old boy were airlifted to Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern with his grandmother and one of the ship’s nurses. He died on the way. The Breakaway is one of Norwegian’s newest mega cruise ships with 18 decks and the capacity to carry up to 4,000 passengers. The ship, based in New York City, has a Manhattan-inspired theme, several swimming pools, and a designated aqua park for young children. Its Splash Academy provides supervised swimming for children ages 3 to 17. It is unknown if these kids were signed into care at Splash...

Child Safety: Understanding Releases and Waivers

This week my daughter Sara Rose’s elite prep school has taken her 9th-grade class out to the Florida Everglades for something called “Outward Bound.” It is purported to be a “life-changing experience” where the sometime sheltered and often coddled members of her class get to experience nature and solitude in a new and profound way. I wanted desperately for her to go; I am not sure how enthusiastic Sara Rose was. In order for her to attend this event, she–along with presumably every other member of her class–was asked to have her parents or guardian sign a release and waiver for her to attend the event. In other words, they had to enter into a contract not to sue the school (or anyone else, for that matter) in the event of an accident or worse. As a children’s lawyer in Florida, I have spent nearly 20 years trying to help kids who have been hurt in daycares, theme parks, public schools, city parks, swimming pools, summer camps, on cruise ships, and by dangerous medications. I have represented injured children who have been inadequately supervised, left to play on dangerous playground equipment, bullied, or involved in car accidents. SHOULD I SIGN A WAIVER FOR MY CHILD? When Sara Rose presented me with the release, my first instinct as a parent was to sign it and hope for the best. But my years of being a lawyer caused me to pause, put my glasses on, and read it. I was astounded. The language in the release gave away any right or claim that she or her parents would have in the...

Cruise Ship Passengers Injured When Abandoned in Port

Traveling to foreign and exotic ports on a luxury cruise ship can be an amazing way to see the world. However, it can turn quickly from a dream to a nightmare for passengers who are injured while at sea or while in port. For more than 22 years I have represented passengers who have been injured on cruises and have gone to battle against these big corporations on behalf of our clients. The worst case scenario occurs when an elderly or child passenger must be hospitalized in the port of call. To make matters worse in these situations, the cruise line will often leave the passenger to fend for themselves in a country where they do not speak the language and have no contacts. Para leer en español haga clic aquí. Elderly Florida Couple Injured While on a Cruise Ship in Turkey This week, Jill and Dodge Melkonian, both 89 of Clearwater, Florida were passengers aboard a Azamara Club Cruise in Turkey. Early Monday morning, Mr. Melkonian tripped and fell aboard the ship and fractured his hip. He was admitted into a hospital in Bartin, Turkey, and the couple was left to fend for themselves when the ship departed without them. According to reports given to ABC News, no one at the hospital spoke English, the facilities were filthy, and women were forbidden to enter the hospital room due to local Turkish customs. Additionally, since the hospital in Bartin reportedly was not equipped to perform reconstructive surgery on Mr. Melkonian’s hip. The family had asked Royal Caribbean to assist them in having him transferred to Istanbul, with their passenger injury...

Back to School Safety: How Can I Pass School Buses?

It is hard to believe that it is back to school time already. After just a minute or two on the drive to work today, I could see that traffic is coming to a grinding halt. Flashing school zones and school buses clog my route to work which triples my daily commute from ten minutes to a half hour. Para leer en español haga clic aquí. Back to School Safety I have two children, my son Nory who just started middle school and my daughter Sara Rose, who just started high school. Nory still gets dropped off, but Sara Rose takes a school bus each day to her school. This got me thinking about back to school safety for Florida’s school children as we place them in the hands of school bus drivers. Those bus drivers, however well-qualified or experienced, are still exposed to the safety risks posed by Florida’s streets and other drivers. According to the Florida Department of Education, over 21,000 drivers illegally pass school buses on a single day. That means that over 3.7 million possible violations occur during our 180-day school year. Each illegal pass can result in a tragic injury or fatality of a child. http://youtu.be/lgX8JasbTY8 Passing a Stopped School Bus in Florida is Illegal I want to prevent these safety risks from happening – and for my daughter’s safety and for the safety of everyone’s children – I would like to share the following safety advice: Florida law Section 316.172 requires that any person driving a car or truck must stop when approaching a school bus with a displayed stop sign and warning light....
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