Millions of parents drop their children off at day care centers every day and ride off to work trusting that the center will keep their children safe from serious harm.
While children may encounter some minor bumps and bruises as they explore the world around them, facilities are expected to a provide safe environment so that parents can feel at ease leaving their children in the facilities’ care. Unfortunately, there are some instances where day care facilities fail to provide a safe environment for children and injuries occur due to negligent supervision, improper playground maintenance or abuse. Sometimes, severe injuries may cause life-altering physical impairment or wrongful death.
If a child is physically injured due to negligence, the parents or a court-appointed guardian may sue on a child’s behalf to recover financial compensation for any medical bills, physical rehabilitation or counseling needed to recover from the harm. If the injury resulted in a wrongful death, the parents or guardians may be able to recover medical bills for the injury that caused the death and funeral expenses.
Our experienced team of attorneys may be able to help guide you through the process of filing a day care injury claim for damages and help you to gather evidence to build your case. If you would like to speak with one of our representatives, please contact us.
If abuse occurred, there may be both civil liability and criminal charges. In criminal court, the government files charges to seek punishment for the crime. At the same time, parents of the abused may be able to bring civil claims on their child’s behalf against the abuser for damages resulting from the abuse and potentially against third parties who failed to report the abuse.
Since day care negligence claims may involve various areas of civil law practice, such as personal injury, premises liability, wrongful death or product liability, it is important to consult with a firm that has experience in all of these practice areas. Our attorneys at Swope, Rodante P.A. have the experience to help you pursue a recovery.
Many state laws and codes are designed to protect children from injury in licensed day cares.
In Florida, sections 402.26-402.319 of the Florida Statutes set statewide guidelines for children’s health, safety and well-being. As a parent, it is important to ask to see a license, which means that the facility must meet these standard requirements. Misrepresentation of qualifications or credentials under section 402.319 may lead to penalties ranging from misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the second degree if the misrepresentation caused a severe injury.
Some of the guidelines for licensed day cares established under § 402.26 – 402.319 include:
- Health and sanitation regulations for safe drinking water and food, inspections, proper utilities, cleanliness and vermin-free environments.
- Supervision standards such as proper screening and training of staff as well as criteria for staff-to-child ratio and narcotic-free employees to provide adequate supervision.
- Transportation standards such as seatbelts in vehicles and limited children per vehicle.
- Outdoor play criteria such as proper fencing and ground cover to reduce injuries.
Under Florida Administrative Code, Chapter 65C-22, licensed day care centers are also required to contact a parent immediately if a child has been seriously injured.
Children are in the early stages of learning risks and consequences as they develop their motor skills, which places them at higher risk of harm due to injury than adults. Unintentional injury is the number one killer of children ages 1 to 14 in the U.S., according to Safe Kids USA, the U.S. arm of a global organization dedicated to preventing childhood injury.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a national study to identify potential safety hazards in 220 licensed child care settings nationwide in October and November 1998.
The product areas examined included cribs, soft bedding, playground surfacing, playground surface maintenance, child safety gates, window blind cords, drawstrings on children’s clothing and recalled children’s products. Below are some alarming statistics the CPSC concluded from that study:
- There have been at least 56 child deaths day care settings since 1990.
- At least 28 of those deaths were a result of suffocation and/or asphyxia associated with nursery equipment of soft bedding.
- For children under age 6, playground-related injuries account for more U.S. hospital emergency room visits than any other child care related injury.
 US Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC Staff Study of Safety Hazards in Child Care Settings, Washington, D.C. 20207 (April 1999).