When your child is seriously hurt or tragically killed after being entrusted to a care giver, either a day care center, child care facility, or other care provider, it’s a horrible and devastating betrayal for you, as a parent.
You have trusted your beloved son or daughter to someone, and now your child is seriously hurt and in pain. What can you do now?
First things first, of course, are making sure that your child has the best care possible. After that, there are legal avenues in place under the laws of both Indiana and Illinois to help you and your baby get justice for what has happened to him or her.
Trying to Prevent Kids from Being Hurt in Day Care
Of course, there are laws in place to try and prevent these accidents from happening. We discussed these protections in our last post. The sad reality: these preventative measures are not always effective.
According to one 2013 research study, there are 18 injuries per 100 children per year in U.S. daycare facilities. It seems that day care is no safer than summer camp or public school. This study found that the most serious injuries were suffered on playground equipment and involved fractures and hits to the head (brain injuries, concussions). See, “Unintentional injuries in child care centers in the United States, A systematic review,” by Andrew N Hashikawa; Manya F Newton; and Rebecca M Cunningham; Child Health Care March 2015 vol. 19 no. 1 93-105.
How to prevent these accidents from happening? How can children be safe at day care?
1. Ratio of Kids to Caregivers
One of the biggest ways to keep kids safe at child care is to make sure there are enough people supervising them. Inadequate staffing is a big reason for kids getting hurt at day care.
There should be a low ratio of children to caregiver. More kids? Then more caregivers need to be out on the playground or with the play group during snack time.
Not having enough supervision in a child care environment can mean all sorts of risks to the children, such as:
- A child choking on food;
- A child being poisoned by ingesting toxins (e.g., drinking or eating cleaning materials);
- Children being hurt or killed in off-site accidents like car crashes after they have wandered from the site (“wandering” is a huge risk for young children who are insufficiently attended);
- A child being hit in the head after moving too close to the swing set;
- A child falling off tabletops, book shelves, desks, cabinetry, etc.
2. Upkeep of Play Areas
Another issue? The environment where the child is placed. These babies and small children must rely upon the caregivers to place them in safe and secure areas, where they will be safe from harm. For instance, kids shouldn’t be able to access ovens, stoves, or hot plates. Doors to storage rooms and closets should be kept locked. Cabinets should be child-proofed.
Negligent day care facilities are notorious for being sloppy in making sure that their surroundings are safe.
3. Play Equipment
A major cause for daycare injuries happens on the playground or during indoor play. Here, it is play equipment that fails and causes harm.
All play equipment needs to be inspected often to insure that it is safe for use. If it’s not, then no child should be allowed to use it until it’s been fixed.
Outdoor equipment carries extra hazards for children. Platforms and slides are inviting accidents and injuries at any time, just because of their nature. Kids can fall from them and be injured. However, platforms with rotten boards or slides with rusty screws are inexcusable. They’re invited injury to a child.
4. Surface Materials
Surfaces of play areas are another injury concern. Not only can toddlers and young children fall and suffer harm on tile or wooden floors, all age groups are vulnerable to head injuries or fractures in outdoor settings where there are gravel pits, sand boxes with rigid metal or plastic toys and wooden barriers, and various kinds of mulch.
Even if the surface material itself isn’t going to cause harm, not allowing a sure footing for a young child invites a fall where they can collide with playground equipment, toys, or other hard objects.
Negligence Claims and Those Liable for Harm to the Child
Personal injury laws act to help kids injured in an accident at a child care center or day care facility. State laws are in place to provide justice not only for the young accident victim but also for her family members that have suffered as a result of the child care negligence.
While the state licensing laws are not able to provide monetary compensation for the injury victims, there are civil causes of action that can be used to help these children with things like long-term therapy needs, rehab costs, medical expenses, future medical bills, and more.
Also, more than one defendant may be held responsible for a day care accident. Liability may be placed under the personal injury law not only upon the child care facility, but also upon the specific individuals who failed to protect their charge from harm.
Claims may be based upon things like negligent supervision and failure to follow state regulations regarding child care, as well as issues involving negligent hiring; negligent training of care givers; and more.
Of course, the best result is to have a child that never suffers harm at day care. However, for those who are tragic victims of these kinds of injuries, there are legal avenues in place to help them and their families get justice. Please, be careful out there!