What Should I do if My Child is Injured at Daycare?
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 improper supervision.
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.