Twisted ankle at summer camp...

by Jenn
(Oregon)

My 15 year old daughter was playing Capture the Flag on a Wednesday at a Rotary Club sponsored summer camp. A boy ran into her and when she fell she twisted her ankle. She was taken to the camp doctor.

He evaluated her, iced it, gave her ibuprofen, and then asked her if she wanted them to call us. When she said no, he gave her a used boot brace (bought at a garage sale) and crutches and let her stay the rest of the time at camp. Her cell phone call on the bus ride home on Saturday was the first we heard of her injury. The camp does not have cell phone coverage, but they do have a land line.

We took her to the emergency room immediately when she got home. She has a torn tendon requiring physical therapy and possible surgery. The length of time for her to heal is going to prevent her participation in fall and winter sports, and possibly impact her participation in spring sports as well.

Her injuries have been covered by our health insurance, but who (if anybody) is liable for her pain and suffering? I can't believe they didn't provide a more thorough medical evaluation at the camp. What can be done about this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Twisted ankle at summer camp...":

Jenn (Oregon):

Unfortunately, accidents are known to occur at child camps. It also appears the boy who ran into your daughter did so unintentionally. As a result, neither he nor his parents would likely be liable for your daughter's injuries and pain and suffering.

The camp itself is likely not liable either. The "Capture the Flag" event your daughter was involved in was an event which normally takes place during these types of camps. Unless you are able to show there was something inherently dangerous about the Capture the Flag event, the sponsors of the camp would not be liable for your daughter's injuries and her resulting pain and suffering.

Your question begs the question as to whether or not the camp doctor committed medical malpractice. Here's more about liability in medical malpractice cases.

Malpractice is generally defined as actions or omissions of a medical professional which fell beneath the standard of care in the medical community, and as result, a patient suffered undue harm or injury. In other words, would other doctors have acted similarly, or did the doctor's omission in not diagnosing the torn tendon fall beneath the standard of medical care in the community.

A torn tendon, while painful, is difficult to diagnose without the aid of a CAT Scan (computer axial tomography) exam. It is apparent the camp doctor did not have immediate access to a CAT Scan.

While the doctor may have missed the diagnosis, it is likely other doctors in the same situation might have also missed the diagnosis. This is especially true as the pain was apparently not severe enough for your daughter to agree to have you called. As a result, there doesn't appear to be sufficient evidence to support a finding of medical malpractice.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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