Sadly, child injuries at daycare centers are far too common. It’s heartbreaking to read in the headlines about abuse and neglect occurring at a once-trusted daycare center.
At Sadaka Law in Englewood, NJ, we value our family and children just as much as you do. If your child suffered an injury at a daycare facility, our skilled attorneys can help you explore your legal options and determine the best way to proceed. Our founder, Mark T. Sadaka, has extensive knowledge and experience regarding daycare injury lawsuits.
In this post, we’ll explain everything parents should know about how to seek compensation and protect their child or children.
Common Child’s Injuries at a Daycare Facility
As children grow, they are prone to injuries. Almost everyone you ask will have an old childhood scar from injuries sustained when they fell off the swing, a tree, or their bike. Many children also suffer from injuries they sustain by falling off playground equipment or during sports practice.
Of course, a child’s supervision (or lack thereof) also contributes to the severity and frequency of injuries.
The most common injuries that occur at daycare facilities include:
- Scrapes, cuts, and skinned knees/elbows
- Bruises or bumps
- Ankle sprains or twists
- Bites from other children
More serious injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Head or neck injuries
- Internal injuries
- Deep cuts or abrasions
While most of these injuries will only require minor medical attention, some can be quite severe.
The Question of Abuse
Any serious or unexplained injuries with no accompanying incident report from daycare providers are warning signs that abuse or negligence may have occurred when you have an injured child.
Generally speaking, injured children can suffer from four major types of abuse, either at daycare or in any other setting. These types include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional or verbal abuse
- Sexual abuse
How Common Are Child Injury Cases at Daycare Centers?
How common is it for children to get injured at daycare? A 2015 academic review article on unintentional child injuries in childcare settings found
- 3.8 injuries per child per 2000 exposure hours
- 11.3-18 injuries per 100 children per year
- 635-835 medically attended injuries per year per 100,000 children
- 271-364 child care center playground injuries per year per 100,000 children
A study commissioned by the Georgia State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care found that, in the general population, 10% of children under age six had an injury-related emergency room visit or hospital stay. However, researchers discovered a much lower injury rate, less than 1%, among children in childcare facilities.
A 2000 study followed the injury rate of 360 children in four U.S. daycare centers over a period of two years. Researchers found a mean child injury rate of 5.7 per 2000 exposure hours. Only 10% of the injuries were classified as moderate to severe. Three out of four injuries occurred on the playground. Factors affecting the risk of injury included:
- Center safety and quality
- The physical infrastructure of play equipment
- Teacher-child interactions
- The child’s behavioral characteristics, such as activity level and aggression
How To Know If Your Child Has Been Abused or Neglected at Daycare
As a parent, one of the worst possible situations is realizing that the daycare staff you trust might be abusing your child. How can you tell if your child’s daycare injuries are accidental or the result of abuse or neglect?
Some red flags to watch out for that may indicate abuse include:
- Unexplained cuts, scratches, bruises, etc.
- Recurring nightmares or night terrors
- Regressive behavior such as bed wetting, thumb sucking, or separation anxiety
- Long-lasting diaper rashes and frequently soiled diapers
- Flinching from or fear of daycare provider
- Sudden, unexplained behavioral changes or mood swings
- Sudden, unusual interest in sexual behaviors
- Unusually withdrawn or aggressive behaviors
- Visible signs of fear, anxiety, or reluctance when it’s time to go to daycare
What To Do If Your Child Was Injured at Daycare
If your child gets injured at daycare, how do you handle the situation as the child’s mother, father, or legal guardian?
Seek Medical Attention: Of course, your child’s health is paramount. After you notice your child’s injury, seek medical treatment immediately.
Document the Incident: Ask the daycare facility for an official incident report that describes how your child’s injuries occurred. Record and save information from the police, emergency medical treatment, medical expenses, daycare center staff, other witnesses, and more.
Consult a Daycare Injury Lawyer: You should seek legal advice from a reputable personal injury lawyer or law firm with experience handling daycare injury cases.
Ask for Information: Ask for the daycare’s insurance company information, any liability waiver, their policy manual, and your contract. Your lawyer can help you with your legal claim and ensure that you receive important documents and records from the daycare center.
Gather Evidence: Save every record related to your child’s injuries. For example, make copies of medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses, which will help you seek compensation for your personal injury claim.
Can You File a Lawsuit Even If You Signed a Liability Waiver?
When children go to a new daycare center, most providers ask parents to sign a liability waiver. While daycare centers have an obligation to protect children under their care, what is their liability for injuries? In most cases, parents can’t sign away their child’s rights to compensation regarding a future daycare injury.
In fact, daycare parent consent and release forms, which usually contain a liability or indemnity clause, aren’t always binding. The standard waiver usually has language that approves emergency medical care and releases liability if the child is injured. You need an attorney to interpret the legal liability.
What Are the Requirements for Filing a Lawsuit?
Daycare injuries are essentially personal injury claims. To show the court that you have a valid claim, you must prove negligence concerning your child’s care. That involves proving that the child’s injury was foreseeable or that their caregiver could have reasonably prevented the incident.
In addition, you and your lawyer must prove the following factors:
- The daycare facility had an obligation (aka duty of care) to protect your child against harm.
- The daycare facility violated that duty of care through negligent actions.
- The violation was the direct cause of your child’s injuries.
- Your child experienced legitimate and verifiable harm and damages due to their injury.
Who Is Responsible for Child Injuries at a Daycare Center?
If your child’s injury occurred at their daycare facility, it may not always be obvious who to hold accountable for their injuries. In many cases, multiple parties or entities may have a duty of care toward your child, including:
- Staff members responsible for your child’s care who have a mandatory obligation to report suspected abuse
- Staff members responsible for transporting your children
- The daycare center owner or operator
- Any visitors or volunteers who were present
How Much Is Child Injury Compensation?
Every case has unique circumstances and mitigating factors, so it’s impossible to give an exact number regarding how much compensation you could possibly receive for your child’s injury at a daycare center. In addition, when a child is injured at a young age, it may take years or even decades for the long-term effects of the injury to reveal themselves.
As such, it’s crucial to gather as much documentation as possible regarding your child’s injury and how it has affected the child’s life before you file a claim.
What Damages Are Included?
You could seek financial compensation for expenses and damages they suffered due to that injury. For example, you can seek restitution for certain losses related to a daycare injury, including:
- Past and future medical bills
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Costs for physical and emotional rehabilitation
- Lost future income or earning capacity
- Medical equipment expenses or in-home assistance for long-term disabilities
- Lost enjoyment of life
How To Avoid Child Injuries at Daycare
The fact that children are accident-prone is a fact. It’s impossible to foresee and prevent a daycare injury 100% of the time. However, here are some tips for how to keep your children safe at their daycare center:
- Perform thorough research and background checks before you choose a daycare provider
- Look for daycare centers with the proper staff-to-child ratio
- Ask the daycare facility to demonstrate their safety protocols and emergency procedures
- Ensure that the daycare playground equipment is sound, age-appropriate, and has a fence and safety mats
In addition, you may want to ask other parents about their experiences to gain a more accurate understanding of the quality and safety of the facility.
Was Your Child Injured at a Daycare Center? Call Us at Sadaka Law
Unfortunately, child injuries at daycare centers are all too common, whether they’re the result of an accident, negligence, or even purposeful abuse. Keep a close eye on your children, and trust your gut instinct as a parent if you suspect something is wrong.
If your child was injured at a daycare center, be sure to seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. Call us at Sadaka Law today at (800) 810-3457 to schedule a consultation with our legal team.