One of the toughest decisions most parents are faced with is leaving their young children with a day care provider. Many factors need to be considered before choosing a day care. While researching, one of the most important questions to ask is what responsibility the day care facility holds should your child be injured in their care.
Liability laws vary from state to state. For this reason, if your child has been injured or you suspect negligence, you should consult a personal injury lawyer who will be familiar with your state’s liability laws.
North Carolina statutes, for instance, state, “The state should protect children in childcare facilities by ensuring they provide a physically safe and healthy environment.” To achieve this level of protection the following elements are required:
- Mandatory licensing of child care facilities
- Promotion of higher quality care through the development of enhanced standards with operators may comply on a voluntary basis
- A program of education to help operators improve their programs while deepening public understanding of child care needs and issues.
Duties of Day Care Operators
Most day care centers must meet mandatory licensing; therefore, ask to see the license of any child car provider you consider. Holding a license means a facility met minimum standards during its last inspection for safety, sanitation, staff and special services. It is important to note, however, that meeting minimum standards does not guarantee quality child care.
Day care centers have a duty to protect children from harm, but that duty is not absolute and extends to dangers that can be reasonably prevented. “Reasonable dangers” are those hazards that the center can control and keep children away from. In simple terms, that means parents will have to show that the center failed to reasonably care for the child and that the centers actions (or inactions) resulted in an injury. An example: A center is required to remove electrical hazards, since parents are subject to this same expectation at home.
If your child is injured and requires immediate medical attention, the center must call your child’s medical doctor and take the child to the nearest emergency room or call an ambulance. This is why the parent is required to give the facility authorization for emergency medical care.
Most day cares also provide incident reports for minor injuries that occur at the center and have the parent sign off on those reports. And the same is true if a child comes to the center with an injury that occurred at home.
Day Care Injury Statistics
An estimated 200,000 children suffer injuries at day care facilities yearly, according to the Centers for Disease Control abd Prevention. The CDC further notes that the most common injury at day care centers are falls, particularly on the playground.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.