For kids, summer means a time of excitement, freedom, and daily adventures without the constraints of school. For parents, that means the added headache of figuring out who will look after their children when they have to continue going to work every day. For this reason, many parents entrust their kids to day camps or daycare centers. These programs allow kids to make new friends, experience fun adventures, and even continue to learn while being supervised by responsible adults.
Every day, thousands of parents entrust their kids to these businesses, trusting that those responsible will prevent their children from experiencing undue harm. While the majority of kids stay safe every day, injuries can and do occur when negligent conduct factors in.
In order to register a child for a daycare center or day camp, most companies require that parents sign extensive paperwork, including emergency contact and treatment procedures and a waiver of liability. But these don’t always completely absolve these companies from responsibility if your child is injured. When these documents are held under scrutiny, the court always places a child’s best interests are always paramount. Completely absolving a daycare center of liability leaves the door open for negligence or blatant disregard of safety to come into their conduct, since there’s no recourse for their actions. In many cases, courts rule these parts of waivers invalid.
“Duty of Care” Requirement
The biggest factor in many daycare injury cases is the “duty of care” that daycare centers have to the kids they are entrusted with. This means that these centers are legally required to not only make sure children are not injured while under their watch, but also that reasonable steps are taken to prevent these injuries from occurring.
Let’s look at an example. Several years back a daycare center decided to go on a field trip to the local zoo. They hired a bus from a local transportation service to get them there. On the way, the bus driver ran a red light, resulting in an accident that injured several of the children. In this case, the court ruled that the daycare center had not violated their duty of care, since they were reasonable in their actions and did everything they could to prevent the accident. Instead, the bus driver was held solely at fault.
Let’s look at a different example though. Say another daycare wished to do the same thing, only they chose to drive their own bus to the zoo. In this case, the bus driver was a direct employee of the daycare center, so the daycare itself could be held liable for the injuries. In this instance, a Martin County personal injury attorney may choose to review several factors for evidence, including whether or not the driver had the appropriate license to be driving the vehicle, and the maintenance condition of the vehicle. Should any discrepancies be found, the daycare center could be found to have breached their duty of care, and then be held liable, even though the parents signed a waiver of liability.
Any parent can tell you that kids seem to find the most creative and unexpected ways to get hurt when left unattended too long. Being full of energy and youthful curiosity, children may not recognize the risks associated with their actions, so it’s imperative that staff be trained not only to treat these injuries and respond quickly, but to reduce these risks as much as possible.
Some common but more serious daycare injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Large cuts or lacerations
- Slip or trip-and-fall injuries
- Trauma injuries
- Allergic reactions