Parents regularly worry about the safety of their children, but the concern
and feeling of helplessness can be greatly elevated when the child is
under someone else’s care and supervision. Many parents must work
to support their families and, as a result, daycare service is a necessity.
Mothers and fathers want to feel confident that their child will not be
injured at daycare and will be properly supervised at all times. Unfortunately,
accidents do happen and children can be injured. However, there is a fine
line between “kids being kids” and outright negligence or
Examples of Actual Daycare Accidents
Let’s look at the following two examples of injuries sustained at
child daycare and whether or not any possibility for negligence occurred.
April 2011: During playtime at daycare, a toddler slipped while trying to pull himself
up to a standing position using the aid of a bookshelf. As he lost his
grasp, he bumped his face on the shelf. As a result, the child’s
gums were bruised and his lip had a small cut. This happened toward the
middle of the day (around 12:00pm) and the child’s mother was informed
of the incident when she arrived to pick the child up at 4:30pm.
October 2010: At a church daycare center, a 7-month old baby was placed on a changing
table. The changing table was equipped with safety straps, but it was
later discovered that the caretaker did not use the straps. The baby rolled
off of the table and landed on the tile floor. The baby’s mother
was called immediately and informed about the accident. When she arrived
to pick the baby up, the caretaker apologized frantically and the baby
appeared to be injured.
Were they At-Fault?
The above examples describe scenarios where day care attendants could have
taken greater measures to prevent or respond to an accident.
- In the case of the slipping toddler, the injury is representative of something
that could easily take place at any time, even while the child is being
supervised. However, reason for possible concern lies in the fact that
the mother was not called immediately after the accident. Parents should
be notified as soon after an accident occurs as possible so they can help
to determine the proper course of action for their child’s care.
It is possible for a child’s injuries to become more serious, if
they are not addressed immediately.
- Our case at the church daycare center is quite different. Although they
did call the parent immediately, no acceptable reason exists for the fall.
A baby should never be left unsupervised on a changing table and safety
straps should be used. With use of the straps and under direct supervision,
it is virtually impossible for the baby to roll off. The baby’s
mother was still concerned and immediately took her child to a hospital
for examination. The exam revealed that the baby suffered a fractured
skull and a concussion as a result of the fall.
As a Parent, What Course of Action Can I Take?
Parents should make themselves aware of their child’s daycare accident
and injury policy. Furthermore, a parent must perform due diligence to
ensure that the daycare and its workers are properly licensed. Individuals
licensed in child daycare services must pass a background check and basic
safety/medical training to earn their certificate. In the case of the
church daycare, churches are exempt and are not required to be licensed
in most states. Church daycare services can be cost effective alternatives,
but is the safety risk worth the savings?
If a daycare injury does take place, it is important that a parent seek
immediate medical care for their child. This is a “better safe than
sorry” case and if a parent feels any unrest, obtaining a medical
opinion can be the safest route to take. The example of the baby portrayed
a severe case of an injury that did not display any immediate visible
signs. The child’s health is the first priority.
If a child is diagnosed and treated for an injury, negligence may be to
blame. If a parent is unsure of his/her rights or suspects negligence
in any way, it is helpful to contact a personal injury attorney immediately.
A personal injury attorney can help to determine whether or not a third
party was negligent thus resulting in the child’s injury and may
also be able to help the affected parents to pursue a legal claim.