Day Care Center Injuries
During the work day, parents rely upon Day Care Centers to provide for a safe, happy, supportive, and healthy educational environment for their children. Unfortunately, many children are injured while under the supposed watchful eye of day care centers and child care providers. Florida law does not require a day care center to be an absolute insurer of the safety of a child. In other words, just because a child is injured in a day care center does not mean that there is an automatic claim, case or lawsuit against the day care center. Like other types of personal injury cases, there are four essential elements of a day care center case. Here are the four elements: Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages.
Duty. This refers to the legal responsibilities of the day care center that may be established by statutes, administrative regulations, and the common law. Generally, a day care center has a duty to provide the child with a reasonably safe environment. In the State of Florida, a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held personally negligent as a matter of law. As such, a day care center cannot blame a child under the age of 6 years old if an incident takes place at the day care center or while under the supervision of the day care center at another location.
Breach of Duty. This refers to the actions or inactions of the day care center that caused injuries to a child while under the supervision of the day care center. It can be the failure of the day care center to take particular action OR the failure of the day care center to act in a reasonable and appropriate manner. In most day care center personal injury cases, the case involves the negligent actions / inactions of the day care center. There was no intent per se to cause harm to the child; however, the element of intent is not required to pursue a day care center personal injury case or claim. In some cases, the day care center or the day care center employee acted with the intent to harm and in a malicious manner. This can also form the basis of a case; however, it should be noted that the element of intent is not required to pursue a civil case or an insurance claim against the day care center.
Causation. This refers to the link between the Breach of Duty and the last element of a case or claim which is Damages. Causation is often the most confusing element of a case. Let's discuss an example. Let's say that a child is injured while running on the playground. The 5 year old fell why running and busted his lip. The day care center employee was just a few feet away and immediately came to the aid of the child. The laceration to the lip ultimately required an ER visit and some stitches. The day care center breached its duty to create an incident report and breached its duty to timely inform the parent of the injury. The parent discovered the injury 5 hours later when the parent came to pick up the child at the day care center. Did the day care center breach its duties? The answer is "Yes". There was a breach of duty to create an incident report and a breach of duty to timely inform the parent of the injury and the need for follow up medical care. However, there is no nexus or link between the injuries (lacerated lip) and the breach of duty. The child did not lacerate his lip because of the failure to report the incident to the parents OR the failure to generate an incident report. Under this general fact scenario, the element of Causation would be missing.
Damages. This refers to the injuries sustained by the child. To establish a viable claim or case for personal injuries, there needs to be personal injuries or damages suffered by the child. The injuries may be purely emotional in nature but emotional injuries only may be difficult to prove or establish. As to physical injuries, the damages may include lacerations, bruises, cuts, internal injuries, fractures, sprains, etc. . . . Certainly, any type of injury suffered by a child under the care of a day care center is quite stressful for both the child and the parent. The value of a case is often based on the strengths of all four elements. Certainly, a case involving a small laceration without the need for stitches is evaluated much differently than one involving a fracture. Furthermore, an injury that is permanent and catastrophic in nature is evaluated differently than one in which the child eventually heals and returns to his or her full activities.
David A. Wolf is a persona injury attorney with 30 years of experience. Throughout his legal career, David A. Wolf has been a champion of causes / cases on behalf of injured child. He strongly believes that in the concept of Giving a Voice to the Injured Child and the Family. He is the author of 12 books including Florida Day Care Center Injuries - Legal Rights of the Injured Child - Building Books of Knowledge for Parents.