When you think about lawsuits for negligence and personal injury cases, you might think about car accidents primarily. For example, if someone hits you when you’re behind the wheel, you might hire a lawyer to ensure you get paid after an accident.
There are other situations where you might want to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit that you think about less commonly, however.
One that some parents weigh is suing their child’s daycare or childcare provider, and it’s a more common reason for working with a lawyer than you might initially think. Your childcare and the quality of it is probably one of your top priorities, and when things happen with this, you do have legal options available to you.
The following are some things to know in general about suing your child’s daycare or childcare provider.
What Agreement Did You Sign?
If you enroll your child in a daycare versus having private childcare with a sitter or nanny, you might sign a few things.
One is a release form or waiver that lets the daycare provider authorize emergency medical care for your child if they can’t get in touch with you. The idea here is that if something happens to your child, the daycare providers will get care for them right away because it’s in the child’s best interest.
You might have also signed a daycare liability clause. These agreements indicate that you give up the right to sue the daycare if something happens.
However, signing this indemnity clause doesn’t automatically mean you can’t bring a lawsuit against the daycare center.
It’s ultimately the child who is hurt, and courts will often indicate a child has an independent right to sue a daycare provider if they’re hurt.
What this means basically is that a daycare’s indemnification clause has very little value, but daycares still include it in enrollment paperwork because they want to discourage parents from filing lawsuits against them.
Negligent Supervision of Children
The most common general type of lawsuit filed against daycare centers as well as other childcare providers involves negligent supervision. You could sue a caregiver if your child were hurt because of their inattention.
Specific examples of negligent supervision can include a child sustaining injuries at a daycare center because there’s not enough staff or a child ingesting a harmful substance left out.
Other examples could be parents of adolescents letting other children use harmful substances at parties or a daycare not properly monitoring a violent child who’s injuring other children.
How Do You Show a Daycare is Liable?
If your child is hurt in daycare, you’re going to have to first file a personal injury claim on behalf of your child and then show the daycare was negligent and therefore liable.
Your lawyer will need to show that the daycare had a duty of care to protect your child from harm. A duty of care basically means an obligation.
Your lawyer will need to show the daycare violated its duty of care, and that the violation was the direct cause of your child’s injuries.
The injury will have to be shown as being foreseeable by daycare staff, and you’ll have to provide proof and value of your child’s damages.
The term prudent daycare center becomes important in these cases.
The prudent daycare center principle means that your child’s daycare did or did not act in the way that another prudent daycare provider would under the same circumstances.
For example, what if your child was injured when their daycare instructor stepped outside to make a personal phone call?
Typically a prudent daycare provider would not step out to take the call and leave a room full of children unattended.
With all this being said, just because a child is injured at daycare, it doesn’t mean the care providers are automatically liable either. Children can be injured despite the best efforts of care providers.
It’s important to do your research when choosing a daycare to try and avoid these situations. For example, speak to the center about their staff-to-student ratio and how they deal with injuries. A good daycare should be able to provide you with detailed information as to how they keep children safe.
There should be written policies in place as to how they deal with different situations.
If you do find yourself in a situation where your child has been injured at daycare, and you believe it’s due to negligence, the best thing to do is speak with a lawyer.