You are at work when you receive the phone call — your child has been injured while at day care. You rush to the hospital as fast as you can, and you worry the entire way there. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You run inside to find out the extent of the injuries, and you make your way to your child’s side to provide the comfort and love only mom or dad can deliver.
The whole time, you wonder how this could have happened. Was it the day care’s fault? Did you choose the wrong facility? Did negligence lead to your child’s injury? What could have been done differently to prevent this? These are weighty questions. The biggest one most parents have in the days and weeks afterward is who is liable if a child is injured due to day care negligence?
The vast majority of day care centers are safe places where you can leave your child without worrying. However, if your child suffers the misfortune of being injured at a facility, you need to take action to ensure it doesn’t happen to another child. You may be eligible to file a day care negligence lawsuit.
Standard of Care and Your Child’s Well-Being
The law requires every day care center to provide a reasonable standard of care to the children who go to the facility. This means that, while a provider may not offer individual care to a child every moment they are there, staff monitors the child’s behavior throughout their stay. Standard of care essentially ensures a reasonable amount of attention will be paid to your child, exactly what you would expect from a responsible care provider.
This standard of care varies depending on the age of your child and the activity they are involved in. For example, you would not expect a day care provider to leave an infant alone with a small object, which they could put in their mouth, but it may be OK to turn one’s back on a 5-year-old with the same object. By that same token, kids will be kids, and their active nature will naturally result in some unavoidable scrapes and bruises. When two children playing tag on the playground bump heads, that’s probably not a case where the day care would be liable.
If you believe the injury sustained should have been preventable under this reasonable standard of care, then you can begin to consider whether the day care was liable in your child’s accident. When standard care does not live up to expectations for the welfare of your children, the day care may be liable.
Considering the Extent of Your Child’s Injury
Before you move forward with a case revolving around an injury to a minor, you should also take into account the nature of your child’s injury. Ask yourself a few questions:
- Will your child suffer any long-term consequences from the injury?
- Did the injury require surgery or require continued medical treatment?
- Was an ambulance called?
- Has recovery taken more than a few days?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes and there is evidence the day care center did not meet the standard of care, then you may want to consider legal action. You may be facing significant medical fees, and you deserve compensation to help cover those expenses from your provider.
Was Your Child’s Injury Foreseeable?
Another major part of deciding liability for an injury received at a day care center is determining whether the injury the child sustained could have been prevented. For example, if a staff member knew about a broken swing on the playground but did not remove it, repair it or keep children off it, then the accident was clearly foreseeable. A child getting on the swing stands a good chance of getting hurt.
Other situations may be harder to gauge. If a swing on new playground equipment breaks, the staff probably would not have foreseen that happening, because any reasonable person would expect a new swing to be in perfect shape.
Determining Liability for a Kid Injured in Day Care
If your child’s injury occurred because of negligence on the part of the day care provider, then you likely have a case. What constitutes negligence? It could involve:
- Toys allowed to deteriorate to unsafe conditions, such as battery covers that don’t close or wires sticking out
- Unsafe playground equipment
- Electrical hazards at the facility
- Not upholding the proper ratio of staff to children
In essence, anything that’s deemed unsafe could violate the reasonable standard of care you would expect from your provider. A facility requires the proper upkeep to provide the best care for the children.
Liability for Child Care Negligence: What About the Day Care Release Form You Signed?
If you consider taking legal action against a day care center, you should know your position with regard to the contract you signed when your child enrolled in the facility. That agreement will lay out the responsibilities of the facility and their premises liability, versus what’s expected from you.
In most cases, signing a contract does not prevent you from suing. In fact, the facility may have breached its contract if it did not follow through on certain things promised on its end, such as procedures in a medical emergency or policies related to picking up your child. If you can prove the injury happened because something promised in the contract did not occur, you may have a case.
All contracts should include terms in the best interest of the child. Speaking to a lawyer could help clarify whether there’s an indemnification clause for injury in your contract and whether it can be nullified in court, based on legal precedent.
Is Your Day Care Liable for Your Child’s Injury? Get Legal Advice
If you are still uncertain whether your day care is liable for your child’s injury, it’s worth getting legal advice. Consult with a knowledgeable attorney with experience in the area of day care negligence, such as Dallas Horton & Associates.
Our Nevada-based law firm can help you determine whether you should pursue a case against your child’s day care in the event of an injury. During your most difficult time, our lawyers can offer you the counsel you need to move forward and get the pain and suffering settlement you and your child deserve.
Contact us today to set up a free consultation, or give us a call at 702-830-4922.