When you pay a daycare center to take care of your child, you have certain expectations about the safety of your child, and so does the law. But injuries and accidents happen, and when they do, it’s critical to find out who is legally responsible—and who is going to pay the medical bills to take care of your child’s injury. Here’s what you need to know about determining liability, and the steps involved in a personal injury suit after your child has been hurt in a daycare.
Child Daycare Centers and Legal “Duty of Care”
When considering liability in a child daycare injury case, one of the most important legal concepts is to understand “duty of care.” Showing duty of care is the first step in an injury suit. Any daycare center is going to have a legal responsibility to ensure that your child is properly cared for and to prevent foreseeable harm, to the extent that any other “reasonable or prudent” daycare facility would be expected to. This can include actions, or failure to act, such as:
- Improper supervision of children
- Failure to maintain safe premises
- The commission of a crime or other violation of the law
When the center (or its employees) fail in their duty of care, they may be held legally liable for breaching that duty. This is true even if you signed a liability waiver (or an “indemnity clause”) as a condition of enrolling your child in the daycare, so don’t be put off from contacting an attorney if you think the daycare acted negligently. The courts often take a dim view of any document that attempts to sign away legal rights, particularly those of injured children.
Showing Causation in an Injury Lawsuit
After demonstrating to a court that the daycare had a duty of care and that it was breached, the next step is to show causation, or that the breach was the reason that the injury occurred. In other words, if there had been no breach, the injury would not have happened.
An example of causation might be if a daycare has a piece of playground equipment and fails to perform regular inspections maintenance on it, yet allows its use. When that equipment inevitably breaks while a child is playing on it and causes an injury, the daycare is likely going to be liable for that injury. You and your attorney would work to prove that that if the daycare facility had properly maintained the equipment, the accident would never have happened.
After causation is determined, the last step in a suit is to show that the accident resulted in some form of damage. Simply put, if there is no harm, there is no lawsuit. But if you’re considering a lawsuit, it’s likely because harm has been done. Examples of damages can include:
- Emergency medical bills, medications, and medical equipment
- Long-term treatment costs, including rehabilitation or therapy
- Lost wages from time taken off work to care for your child
- Pain and suffering (of your child)
- Emotional distress (of your child)
It’s important to note that pain, suffering, and emotional distress damages are almost always only applicable to the child, not to the parents. However, parents may be able to recover financially if the injury resulted in time off work to care for an injured child, even paying for the gas it takes to travel to treatment and parking fees at the hospitals. Your attorney can help you determine the exact damages that you can pursue in court.
Get Help With Your Daycare Injury Lawsuit
This is just an outline of the legal process. It’s a lot to take in, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help you every step of the way. He or she will help you pursue your case against a daycare that’s acted negligently.
While nobody can undo the harm that’s been done to your child, you and your child can at least be compensated financially by those who were responsible, so that you don’t have to worry about the medical bills and other expenses involved after an injury.
Are you ready to talk to an attorney about your daycare injury lawsuit? If so, the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger would like to hear from you. We have offices conveniently located in Columbia, and proudly serve clients from all across the state of South Carolina, including the Sumter, Myrtle Beach, and Florence areas. You can reach us by telephone, click the live chat box, or use the contact link on this page to arrange a consultation with a personal injury attorney who will care for you and your family when you need it most.