Daycare centers are generally safe spaces for infants and children of all ages. Unfortunately, accidents occur and some facilities may not be as safe as others.
Child care providers have a legal duty to provide a “reasonable standard of care” to every child in their care. This standard is also referred to as the “prudent daycare center” standard.
This standard means that every child receives what is essentially a reasonable amount of care and attention appropriate for their age. An infant requires a higher level of care than an 8 year old.
A center may not be held liable for two children bumping heads while running a playground, but could be held negligently liable for a baby falling off of a changing table.
What are The Elements of a Child Care Injury Liability Claim?
While specific standards of negligence vary between the states, typically in the event of an accident, courts determine liability based on a variety of factors. Generally, the elements of a daycare injury claim are:
- The daycare facility had a duty of care to protect your child from reasonable harm;
- The daycare facility breached that duty of care;
- The breach was the direct and proximate cause of the child/infant’s injuries;
- The injury was reasonably foreseeable by daycare staff; and
- There is an actual injury with an available remedy.
To help prove the element of damage, it is in your best interest to take photographic evidence or retain any documentation (like reports from the child's physician) to make sure you can establish that the child was injured.
What are Reasonable Dangers?
Child care facilities are required by law to take reasonable precautions in order to avoid certain dangers. Reasonable precautions are typically things that are within the daycares control.
For example, it is reasonable to expect a facility to have their cleaning supplies stored in a locked cabinet and have electrical outlets covered. On the other hand, it may not be reasonable to expect an after school facility to lock up child scissors.
Typically, injuries caused by one child onto another is not considered a reasonable danger. However, if the injury could have been reasonably avoided a court may hold a daycare center liable for any injuries.
Do State and Local Laws for Nurseries or Daycares Affect Their Liability for Injury?
Yes, state and local laws set specific standards for licensing and thereby provide a foundation for determining negligence and liability.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you believe your child was injured while in a nursery or attending daycare and as a result of the center’s negligence, you should contact a local personal injury attorney to learn about any possible lawsuits you may have.
Because the duty of care is a based on “reasonable” standards, variability among states in high, and a lawyer is necessary to determine the likelihood of your case’s success. An attorney can also inform you on any potential daycare or nursery licensing violations.