It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Your child’s daycare center calls and tells you that there’s been an accident. Your child will recover, but not without experiencing pain from the injuries and subsequent treatments. The incident has left you shocked, angry, and facing the financial impact from injuries that were the fault of someone else.
According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, nearly 5,000 children were injured in daycares statewide between October 2016 and July 2018. Nearly a fifth of these accidents were serious.
Daycare providers in Texas must provide a safe environment for the children in their care. If the potential negligence of the operators or staff resulted in harm to your child, you should consult Anderson Injury Lawyers. With board certified personal injury trial lawyers, our Dallas/Ft. Worth law firm has represented thousands of clients needing compensation for injuries caused by others.
$201,392 Dallas Day Care Neglect Result
What Happens When an Accident Occurs at Daycare
Accidents in childcare are common. They are kids after all and their days include activities and playtime that could lead to the typical accidents associated with children—scrapped knees, smashed fingers, or perhaps a bite from another toddler.
When there’s an injury, the daycare center has procedures to follow. First and foremost, staff will provide the proper medical care needed. For minor injuries, likely that will mean basic first aid. But for more serious accidents, like a hard hit to the head, a broken bone, or exposure to poisons, emergency care may be necessary and 9-1-1 will be called. The “in case of emergency” releases you signed when enrolling your child at the center gives permission for the daycare to seek immediate medical care for your child.
For minor incidents you’ll probably hear about at the end of the day when picking up your child. By law, daycare centers must fill out reports on injuries that happen under their care. The form will provide the basic information of when, where, and how (if known) the accident occurred and who was supervising your child at the time. The injury will be described and what first aid was rendered.
For an emergency that required professional medical care either from EMTs or a trip to the hospital, the daycare will call you as soon as possible so that you can either pick up your child immediately to pursue additional medical care – or go the hospital if the child’s been transported from the scene. Just as with minor injuries, the daycare must fill out an injury report that will be sent to the licensure agency. You should get a copy as well.
Types of Daycare Injuries and Who Might be Responsible
Childhood injuries can happen anywhere, including daycare. But when your child has been placed in daycare, the facility is mandated to provide a safe atmosphere free of hazards. And those hazards don’t just include “things” like playground equipment, toys, shelving, and chairs. The daycare center must carefully screen staff and monitor visitors, including parents, to avoid injuries inflicted by others.
Some typical injuries at daycares include:
- Strains, sprains, bruising, and scrapes from trip and falls
- Head injuries from falls, rough play, or abuse
- Ingestion of caustic substances
- Anaphylaxis from exposure to allergens (given peanut butter despite a known allergen)
- Bites from other children
- Broken bones from falls, being pushed, or even being hit by a car in the parking lot
- Rashes (especially diaper rash caused by failing to change frequently)
- Splinters and cuts
- Sun stroke or frostbite
Those potentially responsible for daycare injuries, include:
- Outside vendors, such as maintenance or groundskeeping
- Manufacturers of defective items
- Other children at the daycare
If your child is hurt playing with a toy at daycare, you may not realize that the potential liability doesn’t just stop with the owner/operator or staff member who should have known the danger and allowed it to happen. By working with our Dallas personal injury attorneys, the details of your case will be reviewed thoroughly to see if other parties bear any responsibility. For example, if the toy had a material defect that the daycare could not have foreseen, there could still be a possible claim against the toy manufacturer.
What Happens After the Accident
After you are notified that your child was hurt at daycare and you address the child’s immediate medical needs, you should start gathering information about the incident. Depending on how serious the injuries were, you might need to seek advice of personal injury counsel sooner rather than later so that you don’t inadvertently harm a potential claim for damages.
Because your child may be too young to give an accurate account, and the daycare center may be inclined to report the incident in a self-serving way, you’ll want to start gathering your own records that may be needed in a personal injury claim.
- Request a copy of the accident report the daycare is required to send the state
- Take pictures of where the accident occurred
- Take pictures of your child’s injuries initially and throughout recovery
- Gather all medical reports, including those related to mental health
- Ask to see any surveillance footage
- Get a list of name and title of all on duty, including all eyewitnesses
- Ask for how many children were present
- Request a timeline that shows what was happening before, during, and after the incident
- Keep a journal that will help track treatments, expenses, any post traumatic stress such as bedwetting, anxiety, out of character behaviors
- Talk to other parents to see if they have had any concerns about safety or if their children have had any injuries
Understand that the daycare may be reluctant, and might even refuse, to give you this information. The facility’s lawyers or insurance representatives have likely advised the daycare not to agree to your request. That’s another reason why engaging counsel at Anderson Injury Lawyers early is a good idea. You can let the professionals handle the legal stuff while you concentrate on helping your child recover.
What about Releases?
Not only might the daycare stonewall you on information related to your child’s accident, it or its representatives might try to discourage you from holding the daycare accountable. You may be given a copy of the contract for services you signed and specifically pointed to review the liability and indemnity releases that say you’re giving up your right to sue if your child is injured. Typically, the release of liability clause will read something like this:
“The undersigned parent or legal guardian assumes all risk of injury or harm to the child while the child is at the daycare center or on approved field trips. The parent or legal guardian agrees to fully release, indemnify, defend, and forever discharge this daycare center, its owners, staff, employees, and agents of and from all liability, claims, demands, damages, costs, expenses, actions, and causes of action in respect of death, injury, loss, or damage to the child, or by the child, howsoever caused, arising out of or to arise by reason of or during the child’s participation in the daycare.”
Sounds conclusive, right? It’s not. Courts usually disfavor such clauses as contrary to public policy—in other words what is best for society would be undermined if such provisions were upheld. Allowing these releases might allow daycare providers to be lax in their duties of care to children. Furthermore, as the parent you can’t agree to sign away the rights of your child to compensation for the child’s injuries.
If you are hesitant about pursuing your rights to compensation for your child’s injuries because of a contract provision, call our personal injury attorneys. We can review the release language. More likely than not, the release won’t be a defense to an action.
Texas Negligence Law
For your daycare provider to be responsible for your child’s injuries, the following elements must be met:
- Duty of care
- Duty of care breached
- Cause in fact
- Proximate cause
Under Texas law, daycare providers have a duty of care to keep children safe from undue harm. Daycare centers are licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), which ensures that a safe environment is always provided and there is the proper ratio of staff to children. There are many additional regulations that daycare centers must follow daily.
If the daycare center fails to act reasonably to uphold its duty of care, it might be found to have breached it. For example, a teacher cleans up a spill and leaves the caustic cleaner within reach of a small child, who drinks it. Leaving the cleaner out was the cause in fact of the injuries. Had it not been left where a child could reach it, the accident would not have occurred. Leaving the cleaner out was the proximate cause as well because a reasonable person should have known damages would occur.
Lastly, there can only be a recovery for negligence if actual damages are suffered, such as pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and expenses related to rehabilitation.
When determining if the daycare acted reasonably, the court uses a “prudent daycare” standard. Under this legal principle, the court asks what a prudent daycare center would do under similar circumstances. Take the example above concerning the cleaner. Would a prudent daycare center have left out a poisonous substance where children could reach it? The answer is obviously, no.
Because the issues of causation can be tricky, you need the advice of experienced personal injury if your child has been hurt at daycare.
Get Compensation for Your Child’s Daycare Injury
By consulting with an attorney quickly, you can get the answers you need to protect your rights to compensation. The Anderson Injury Lawyers will gather the details of your child’s accident and if there’s a claim to be made, will fight to get the compensation you and your child deserve. You’ll also get the peace of mind from not worrying with the legal stuff so you can concentrate on your child’s recovery.
Call us today at (214) 327-8000 for a free consultation concerning your child’s daycare accident. Our Dallas/Ft. Worth personal injury attorneys can help.