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Parents' lawsuit of youth tour groups highlights importance of "duty of care"

Member Services
June 4, 2015
Categories: In The News

(Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 

As students travel abroad in increasing numbers, academic institutions are struggling to develop the strategies and resources needed to address developing risks.  Last month, the Los Angeles Times reported that two Jewish groups were sued by the parents of four Los Angeles high school students after their children contracted Leishmaniasis, a disease that causes painful skin ulcers. The parents state that the trip leaders took no precautions to protect or inform the students of the possibility of contracting the disease despite having “previous problems” with sand flies on past trips. The parents state that the school failed in its “duty of care” obligations to the students. Duty of care is a legal concept that requires organizations such as tour operators and academic institutions to disclose the risks of travel to travelers and provide suitable medical and security resources as necessary.

Another more severe example occurred in 2007 when a teenager on a school trip to China contracted an insect-borne illness while hiking. The illness permanently damaged the teenager’s fine motor skills and ability to speak. A court case later awarded the teenager $41.7 million because the school failed its duty to disclose potential hazards and duty of care once the illness occurred. Trip leaders did not warn the students that they would be in an area with insect-borne diseases, took no steps to reduce the likelihood of contracting the disease, and failed to recognize and treat the disease once it started. If a proper risk management system had been in place, all three failures could have been avoided.

Tour operators and academic institutions around the world must develop plans to keep their travelers and students safe. The U.S., U.K. and EU have all developed legal frameworks that require organizations to have risk assessment and crisis management plans in place. These duty of care laws can have severe consequences for organizations that do not have proper protocols. Many organizations have developed uncoordinated solutions that look good on paper, but fail to provide sufficient support to their travelers in times of crisis.

We developed the Global Rescue Travel Risk and Crisis Management (TRCM) program specifically to help tour operators and academic institutions fulfill their duty of care obligations. Our TRCM program provides critical pre-planning and assistance, ensuring the highest likelihood of preventing emergencies and having positive outcomes in an emergency.  With Global Rescue’s TRCM program, tour operators and academic institutions can be proactive and prepare for potential threats to travelers rather than just react to an emergency and face the consequences.

To learn more about the Global Rescue Travel Risk and Crisis Management Program, contact us at memberservices@globalrescue.com or 617-459-4200.

 


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