Every child occasionally sustains an injury, whether at home, at Grandma’s, or at day care. Kids play, kids aren’t as careful as adults, and kids get hurt. There are probably only a handful of parents who have never had to take their child to the emergency department. Most of the time, such injuries are minor, and no one’s fault. After all, stuff does happen.
But perhaps your child sustained insufficiently-explained facial injuries while at day care, as was the case with a 13-week-old at a Hardeeville, SC, center, or caught an infection that you believe they would not have suffered if not for the day care environment. It can be difficult to know when such cases are legally actionable.
However, the unfortunate fact is, kids are injured at day care centers. Kids even die there. And the unlicensed providers are often the ones with the worst records.
Facts and Stats and Reasons
Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in all children ages one to 18, not just those in day care. But beyond this general statement, it is difficult to tease out numbers specific to day care. These statistics are fragmented across states, there apparently being no national tracking of day care injuries and deaths. In general, health care and child welfare professionals believe that child abuse, injury and death are underreported. It is not clear how well-reported day care injuries are from state to state. However, injury rates tend to be low for infants and highest for those in the two- to five-year-old range, with boys having more injuries than girls.
The majority of these traumas involves falls and happen while children are on playgrounds and similar outdoor locations. Falls also frequently happen around stairs, furniture, and windows. Many more occur when another child is involved—fighting, pushing, shoving, biting, or throwing objects—or when a child collides with a moving object, such as a swing or a gate. Falls are the leading cause of serious injuries.
The most common kinds of injuries in day care settings are as follows:
- Minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. These account for the overwhelming majority of day care injuries and can have many different causes.
- More serious injuries such as broken bones or dislocations, internal damage, head injuries, and dental injuries.
- Choking or suffocation. Suffocation injuries can happen among infants who are not properly positioned.
- Poisoning from a toxic substance or plant.
- Burns from hot surfaces or hot water.
- Drowning in various bodies or pools of water, from small amounts to large.
Factors that cause children to sustain injuries can be varied as well. Young children do not have knowledge or judgment because of their age, and so they rely on adults to watch over them. Therefore, injuries can occur because children:
- Don’t know what’s safe.
- Lack physical ability when trying to imitate an older child.
- Have access to hazards and toxins they shouldn’t.
- Are in an environment that lacks safety devices or adequate supervision.
These last two reasons can sometimes be grounds for negligence.
Reasons for Lawsuits Against Day Care Providers
Lawsuits against day care providers or centers are brought for one of two general reasons. One is negligence, and the other is intentional tort (intentional injury, such as assault).
A day care provider owes your child reasonable care and conduct while the child is in their care. If they don’t provide it, this lack can be grounds for negligence. Common violations in negligence lawsuits are:
- Failure to provide proper supervision. In one Texas case where children died from a fire, the provider had been out browsing at Target, even stopping for coffee on the way home, leaving the children alone while they napped. Her behavior was caught on surveillance tapes.
- Failure to maintain safe premises. In Alabama, 86 children were sickened and 30 were hospitalized by an apparent Staphylococcus aureus infection after eating contaminated food. One mother claimed she found her child nonresponsive in a pool of vomit and excrement (which could be failure to provide proper supervision as well).
- Violation of a statute. An example would be committing a crime while caring for children, such as when a toddler needed to be hospitalized for allegedly ingesting marijuana possessed by the day care operator.
With intentional tort or conduct that causes injury, you may have the option to bring a civil case in addition to a criminal one. Intentional injury can also be caused by another child at the day care, though such cases can be more difficult to establish.
In some intentional tort cases, emotional distress can be sufficient to bring a case, even when physical injury is not apparent. An example of this would be inappropriate sexual contact (touching the child’s genitals, for example), followed by extreme threats, such as threats to kill the child’s parents if the child tells what happened.
When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.
Our children deserve all the protection we can give them. If your child has been injured by the negligence or maliciousness of a day care provider, or even by another child at a day care location, you should speak with an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney like the ones at the Louthian Law Firm as soon as possible.
Our attorneys can help you evaluate your case; protect your legal right to the courts; stand by your side throughout the legal process; and get you the best possible results. For a free consultation, call the Columbia personal injury lawyers at Louthian Law Firm today toll free at (803) 454-1200, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form. Louthian Law Firm. Seeking truth. Securing justice.