Daycare Injuries: When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
If your child was injured at daycare, it is possible, depending on the laws of your state, that the daycare facility is legally responsible for those injuries. While it is not a certainty that you will recover compensation from that facility, a consultation with a lawyer would be worthwhile to determine if a claim should be filed. The time to consult with an attorney is after your child has completed his or her medical treatment and has been released by the doctor.
A daycare facility is not designed primarily to make sure that every child there is safe. However, that facility does owe a large amount of care in terms of supervising the activities that the children are involved in and making sure that those activities are safe and age-appropriate.
There are several ways that a daycare facility could be held responsible for your child’s injury. One way is a claim of negligence. To prove that the daycare facility acted negligently, it must be shown that they failed to exercise the care that was required to prevent a foreseeable injury to your child. Due care is the amount of care that a facility would be expected to exercise, and this depends greatly on the specific circumstances involved with the injury. Since supervision of children is one of the primary reasons that daycare facilities exist, if the employees of that facility were negligent in supervising your child, the daycare facility may be held responsible for those negligent actions. The specific type of injury is also important, as some injuries, such as falling from a piece of playground equipment, are foreseeable, while other injuries, such as being hit by a meteor while at daycare, are less so.
Some common signs that a daycare facility is negligent include not having enough caregivers for the amount of children, lack of first aid tools, lack of safety standards, and inadequate access to food and water. An important consideration will also be whether you have signed any release forms or waivers that may have stated that you would be unable to sue the facility if your child was hurt there. Fortunately, courts have typically held that it is against public policy for daycare facilities to remove the right to compensation. If you have signed such forms and are thinking of bringing a case against a facility, you would benefit from consulting an attorney so that they could assist you in clarifying the legal rights of you and your child.
Another way that a daycare facility could be held liable is negligence per se. This means that an action is negligent because a law was broken. In some states, there are laws that specifically regulate childcare facilities. If one of these laws was broken and a child under supervision of a daycare facility was injured, that facility may be held legally responsible under a claim of negligence per se. Again, this depends on the state that you are in and the specific type of injury that occurred.
A third way that a daycare facility could be held liable is under a theory called res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.” Courts have used this theory to describe an accident or injury that would not have occurred if someone involved had not been negligent. An example of this is if a surgeon operates on a patient and several days later it is found that a sponge has been left inside the patient’s body. The sponge would not have been left inside the patient unless someone had been negligent.
Regardless of whether you choose to file a claim against the daycare facility and regardless of the theory as to why they are responsible, proper documentation of the child’s injuries and medical treatment will be necessary. The daycare facility will likely have insurance, and it is possible that the insurance company will offer a settlement agreement. If you have not already consulted with an attorney, this would be a good time to do so.
Since your child is a minor and if you choose to file you, you will be doing so on their behalf, you will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to be able to sue the facility. This means that you will be appointed by the court and you will be responsible legally for protecting the best interests of your child. This appointment will end once your case has completed.
If your child was at daycare when he or she suffered an injury, you may be entitled to file a claim against that daycare facility. Please do not hesitate to contact the New Jersey Lawyers for injuries at Clark Law Firm, P.C. for a consultation. Our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience in all areas of personal injury. We would be happy to work with you to make sure that you receive the appropriate compensation to which you are entitled.