Protecting your Work Camper while they are on the job

What happens if a Work Camper is seriously injured?

Work Campers are wonderful people who are extremely integral to the operations of many parks. They provide valuable services without the cost of an employee. But what happens if a work camper is seriously injured?

What if someone has their hand crushed by a log or piece of equipment, or falls and sustains serious back injuries? Who is responsible for paying for their injuries?

Even though most work campers sign a waiver acknowledging the risks of the job, the campground owner (in most states) still bears some liability for that camper’s well-being. This is especially true when evidence can show a particular piece of equipment or part of the park was not properly maintained, or that proper instruction was not issued.

It is easy to think of work campers as volunteers, but in the eyes of the Labor Departments in many states, they are considered employees. As a Labor Department would see it, they are following your instructions and working for your business in exchange for remuneration, such as a complimentary site or other perks. In many states, this can fit the definition of an employee and thus be covered by workers compensation.

Many parks do not even carry workers compensation insurance, meaning this could be an uninsured loss. Furthermore, many parks also do not think to report work campers and their remuneration to their workers compensation insurer – meaning that the insurance company can be paying a claim for an “employee” they never knew existed. A situation like this can cause distrust between the insurance company and the policyholder, sometimes resulting in the policy being canceled, forcing a park to seek other insurance options, often with an insurer-of-last-resort.

So who is liable when a work camper is injured? Your responsibility depends on your state and your situation. Consult with your insurance counselor and perhaps an attorney. Let one of our experts guide you before it is too late to take corrective action. We work with clients nationwide, and help them solve problems they do not even know exist.

James Dick, CPCU, AAI