In the course of childhood play, minor injuries like bumps and bruises are commonplace, but no child should have to endure a serious injury.
Daycare centers are tasked with ensuring children’s safety, and in most cases, they succeed by implementing safety protocols and preventive measures. Unfortunately, there are some instances when a daycare facility may fail to provide the safe environment that children need, leading to potential injuries.
If your child has experienced a severe injury at a daycare facility, you might be desperate for answers.
How did this happen? Is it safe for your child to return to daycare?
Did the daycare facility fail to keep your child safe? Are other kids in danger?
A daycare accident lawyer can assist you in answering these crucial questions and determining your options for seeking compensation.
How Can a Daycare Accident Attorney Help You?
Learning what happened in your child’s accident, if other children are still at risk, and if the daycare was negligent are top priorities for your daycare accident attorney. Frequently, parents try to find answers on their own, and the daycare staff may get nervous and try to cover up evidence of what occurred.
For this reason, we recommend that you speak with a daycare accident attorney right away so we can handle the investigation for you.
Our team of investigators will discreetly delve into the daycare center and the incident that injured your child. These efforts may include interviewing witnesses, exploring records of complaints filed against the daycare, assessing compliance with state regulations, and diligently searching for any potential video evidence pertaining to your child’s accident.
If we uncover evidence indicating the daycare’s negligence, we will actively pursue damages to cover present and future medical expenses, your child’s pain and suffering, and any lasting disability or disfigurement they may have sustained.
What Makes a Daycare Negligent?
The fact that your child was injured at daycare doesn’t necessarily mean the facility was negligent. Some injuries can’t be anticipated or prevented.
However, daycare centers have a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for their charges, and if their failure to do so leads to an injury, they might be negligent.
There are several elements of negligence that we will look for when studying the details of your case:
- The daycare had a duty of care. The first step in demonstrating negligence is establishing that the defendant (in this case, the daycare) had a duty of care. In general, this means that everyone should be reasonably careful to avoid injuring others. In the specific case of daycare, it’s generally understood that childcare facilities have a duty to maintain a reasonably safe environment for multiple children of varying ages.
- The daycare failed in its duty of care. We will need to show exactly how the daycare failed to create a safe environment for your child. For instance, let’s say your toddler drank cleaning chemicals because the chemicals were left out and the teacher was busy with other children. In this situation, the facility may have failed in its duty by leaving dangerous chemicals unsecured and by providing insufficient supervision of the children.
- This breached duty of care directly led to your child’s injuries. Depending on the situation, there may be varying levels of difficulty in showing how a failed duty of care caused your child’s injuries. If there is video evidence of the accident, that’s usually a good start, but we will also need your child’s medical records so we can explain the exact injuries they suffered. If there isn’t a video, we will seek out other types of evidence, such as witness testimony.
What Are Some Common Causes of Daycare Injuries?
In general, most daycare injuries caused by negligence are rooted in failing to follow regulations or failing to address hazards in the daycare. Here are some specific examples of daycare negligence:
Lack of Childproofing
You’d expect a daycare to have solid childproofing practices, and for the most part, they do. But sometimes, a daycare owner or manager will overlook an important item.
Examples of this might include failing to install childproof locks or forgetting to put covers over electrical outlets. In some cases, the daycare does take these steps, but a lock becomes broken and isn’t repaired in a timely manner.
Then, a child is able to open the door and get into dangerous items like cleaning chemicals. Or one of the staff members removes an outlet cover to use the outlet, then forgets to recover the outlet later.
Spills and Debris on the Floor
Slip/trip and fall accidents can happen if the daycare isn’t careful about cleaning up hazards on the floor. Of course, spilled drinks or other liquids are not uncommon when children are around, but staff members should address these spills promptly and keep kids away until the janitor can come with the mop and bucket.
The same goes for toys and other items left on a floor – there should be enough adults present to notice these things and move them out of the way while still watching the children.
Sometimes, the hazard comes from above, not below. Objects left too close to the edge of a desk, table, or windowsill can easily topple if a curious toddler reaches for them.
For this reason, staff members in daycares are taught to keep necessary objects away from the edges of furniture. If an item like a lamp is left too close to the edge and a child pulls it down, they could suffer serious injuries.
Sharp objects like scissors are also problematic, and it’s important for daycare workers to keep these out of the reach of small children. When scissors are necessary for arts and crafts, staff members should make sure they only hand out the blunt-edged scissors made for young children, and they should still supervise the kids carefully.
Daycare playgrounds are usually designed to be relatively safe for children to play on, but sometimes, we see cases where a child suffered an injury at a childcare playground. There are several ways the daycare could be negligent in these situations:
- Ignoring recall notices. The owner or manager of a daycare has a responsibility to keep up with recall notices for children’s products because daycares tend to use a lot of children’s products, including playground equipment. If a piece of equipment was recalled and the daycare didn’t remove it promptly, they could be negligent. (This is also true of toys, cribs, and other items used inside the daycare.)
- Lack of supervision. If there are not enough adults supervising the playground, the staff members who are present may not be able to care for all the children adequately. One common scenario happens when a staff member is distracted by a disagreement or altercation between children. They may go over to the kids in question to de-escalate the situation, and while talking to the children, they fail to notice another child balancing precariously near the top of the slide. If the playground is appropriately staffed, another worker would notice the child on the slide and instruct them to sit before sliding. But if there isn’t enough supervision, this may not happen, and the child may suffer an injury. Again, supervision problems can extend beyond the playground.
Another cause of playground injuries is defective equipment that hasn’t been recalled yet. If this is the cause of your child’s injuries, you may have a case against the equipment manufacturer rather than the daycare.
In most states, childcare facilities have to follow stringent regulations for hiring employees, including background checks and verification of training, education, or licensure (requirements vary by location).
But what happens if the daycare manager neglects their responsibility to carry out due diligence or never gets around to looking at the results? In such an alarming scenario, the welfare of your child could be jeopardized, leaving them in the care of someone potentially dangerous.
The majority of injuries at daycare are accidents, even if they were caused by someone’s negligence. However, there are some incidents where children are deliberately mistreated by daycare workers, such as recent disturbing cases in Maryland, Georgia, and West Virginia.
Most of these cases come to light due to the daycare’s own surveillance video, which is frequently offered as a way for parents to check in on their children throughout the day.
If you believe a daycare worker intentionally harmed your child, or you simply feel something is wrong, we encourage you to watch their daycare videos if these are available. In many situations, this can help to show how an injury happened and whether it was an accident or not.
It’s essential to save a copy of the video, get your child medical attention, and file a police report if you find evidence that your child was abused at daycare. If so, it’s possible the daycare was negligent in their hiring practices, or they failed to review their own footage and monitor their employees.
An experienced daycare accident lawyer can help you understand your options.
Lack of Training or Staffing
Even well-meaning daycare workers can make mistakes in unfamiliar situations or when they simply have too many children to look after. Daycare workers should be trained in how to handle a variety of problems, such as a child choking while eating lunch.
Additionally, they should follow state regulations for staff-to-child ratios, which differ based on the age of the children. Sometimes accidents occur because a staff member received inadequate training for the situation or was left in charge of too many children to care for them all properly.
Failing to Address Medical Care or Food Allergies Appropriately
Parents of children with serious medical needs are usually meticulous about following dosing instructions for medication or avoiding allergens that affect the child. They also work hard to ensure childcare workers know about care instructions, as well as allergens or other potential threats to the child’s health.
If you’ve taken steps to ensure your child’s medical needs are met at daycare and these instructions aren’t followed, your child could suffer a severe allergic reaction or medical event.
When this happens, your attorney will investigate to learn what happened. Sometimes, another child unknowingly brought an allergen into the daycare, and the workers had no way of knowing.
But in other cases, a staff member may have failed to check the ingredients of a food product, forgotten to give medication on time, or failed in other aspects of providing reasonable care for the child. If so, the daycare might have been negligent.
Parents often like to enroll kids in daycares that offer field trips, as these can be educational and fun. But it’s important for the daycare to ensure every child is in a car seat appropriate for their age and size – otherwise, the child could be seriously injured in an accident.
Car seats also have expiration dates, and a daycare employee should regularly check them to ensure the seats don’t require replacement. If your child was hurt in a car accident while in the childcare facility’s care, we will look into the cause of the accident and whether a lack of safety features in the vehicle worsened the injuries.
In some situations, you may have a case against the at-fault driver and the daycare.
Get Help From a Daycare Accident Law Firm Today
No parent wants to see their child injured and in pain, and if your child is hurt at daycare, you may wonder if there’s anything you can do to prevent further difficulties. If your child suffered an injury in a childcare facility, we encourage you to call The Personal Injury Lawyers ™ for a free consultation.
Robert S. Fakhouri, a distinguished alumnus of Chicago-Kent College of Law and a member of the Illinois Bar, is the founder and lead attorney of The Personal Injury Lawyers ™.
After honing his skills as a legal clerk and litigation associate, he established his own firm at the age of 25. Throughout his thriving career, he has secured multimillion-dollar settlements for countless injured people and their families, thanks to a staunch belief in fighting for justice in and out of the courtroom.
When he’s not fighting for clients, he creates easily digestible social media posts on various legal topics for his many followers.