How Do I Handle a Childcare Injury/Negligence Claim?
Handling A Childcare Injury Claim
Parents across the nation frequently utilize daycare facilities and other childcare services. When parents must work, there are few options other than enrolling a child in some type of childcare. While accidents and injuries will always occur where children are present, parents expect their child to be properly supervised while at daycare. If an accident with injury occurs due to negligence or abuse, a lawsuit may be filed by parents on behalf of the injured child. Our attorneys can help you with handling a childcare injury claim.
Should you receive a call saying your child has been injured while at daycare, you should be aware of your legal options if negligence was at hand. Knowing your child was the victim of negligence can be a very difficult thing to deal with. If you find yourself in this situation, calling a St. Louis, Missouri negligent daycare lawyer from Finney Injury Law can be the thing you can do to ensure the most positive outcome. Our attorneys have had the experience of handling a childcare injury claim for many clients.
What Constitutes Daycare or Childcare Negligence?
While daycare negligence or abuse comes in many forms, some are more obvious than others. While no parent wants to consider child abuse or neglect, it could be necessary if your child consistently comes home with bruises or other marks or is constantly hungry and thirsty when picked up. Some examples of negligence in a daycare injury case include the following:
- There are obvious safety hazards at the facility.
- There are choking hazards littering the facility.
- The children do not appear to be properly or continuously supervised. If you show up at the facility and there are children outside without adult supervision, this should raise a serious red flag.
- The hiring practices of the facility leave a lot to be desired; there are no background checks conducted on new employees.
- There is an inadequate staff-to-child ratio.
- The children don’t have consistent access to food and water.
- There are no clear policies for staff regarding child abuse and neglect.
- There is no regular cleaning/maintenance schedule in effect.
- The staff is not trained in basic first aid and there are no first aid supplies on-premises.
- Doors and gates are left unlocked, potentially allowing children to wander unsupervised.
How Do I Prove Daycare Negligence in Missouri?
The personal injury and premises liability laws of your state—Missouri—will control the extent to which your daycare facility can be held liable for your child’s injury. You will be required to show there was a duty of care on the part of your daycare facility, that the daycare facility breached that duty of care, and that as a result of that breach, your child was injured. Following your child’s injury, you will first ensure that all necessary medical care is taken care of. Keep close track of all medical bills associated with the injury, as well as any medical reports. Since, as a minor, your child cannot sue for negligence, you will sue on behalf of your child.
Duty of care is the degree of care a daycare facility would reasonably be expected to exercise to prevent foreseeable harm. This duty of care may be determined based on the manner in which the “average” daycare is operated, and the circumstances surrounding your child’s injury. If the injury resulted from inadequate supervision, then the daycare facility would likely be liable for the negligence of their staff. When a court evaluates the circumstances of the injury, they will determine whether or not the accident was foreseeable. A foreseeable incident might be an injury due to unsanitary conditions, or a slip and fall due to a spill that has not been cleaned up. A jury will decide whether another similar daycare facility would have reasonably ensured the hazard was properly dealt with.
Once your attorney has shown duty was breached, you must show that the breached duty was the reason for the injuries. The greater connection between the daycare’s actions and the child’s injuries, the more likely the daycare would be considered a negligent party.
A strong connection can indicate negligence, however there are circumstances that can interfere with liability on the part of the daycare. If there was an event outside the actions of the daycare which also contributed to the injuries of the child, it may decrease the likelihood that the daycare will be held liable. This is a complicated determination, and you need an attorney on your side to help ensure the daycare is held responsible for injuries to your child.
To summarize, your daycare has a responsibility to you and your child which will be conveyed to the court. Once you and your attorney have established negligence, your attorney will work to get you and your family compensated for the financial losses, and medical bills acquired due to the daycare’s actions. A Finney injury lawyer will assist you with handling a childcare injury claim from start to finish.
If My Child is the Victim of Daycare Injury or Neglect, Who Can I Sue?
When you find out your child has suffered abuse or neglect while in a daycare facility, you may be angry, frustrated, horrified, and confused. Your trust has been violated, and your child failed to receive basic care. Daycare abuse and neglect are, of course, totally unacceptable. Daycare facilities are state-licensed and are legally bound to adhere to certain standards of care. The facility must be clean and reasonably safe and secure, and the children must be protected (to the extent possible) from accidents and injury.
Often, there are no overt signs of neglect; younger children typically experience separation anxiety, so a child not wanting to go to daycare is not, in and of itself, evidence of neglect or abuse. If your child suddenly does not want to go daycare or suddenly starts having emotional outbursts when taken to daycare, there could be a daycare problem. If those outbursts are coupled with any of the following, then you should definitely consider daycare facility neglect:
- Your normally outgoing child begins acting more and more withdrawn.
- Your child exhibits unusual signs of depression or seems continuously agitated.
- Your child begins engaging in extreme behaviors when it is time to be dropped off at daycare.
- You see unusual signs of aggression in your child.
- Your child has bruises or other marks without adequate explanation.
- Your child begins regressing in milestones, such as potty training (i.e., a child that was fully potty trained now needs a diaper.
- Your child begins bed-wetting when he or she had not done so prior to going to daycare.
- Your child is consistently hungry or thirsty when you pick them up from daycare.
You are the advocate for your child’s well-being. If you suspect abuse or neglect, you must act quickly for your child’s safety. Talk with other parents whose children attend the daycare facility. Keep meticulous records of your child’s behavior and note anything that seems out of the ordinary during drop-off and pick up. If you see any overt safety issues, or if any of the children appear dirty, hungry, or just seem to be generally unkempt, consider speaking to a child injury attorney from Finney Injury Law about handling a childcare injury claim.
What are the Different Types of Daycare Injury Claims?
The type of lawsuit you bring against your child’s daycare facility will depend on your state laws, as well as exactly what the circumstances surrounding the injury were. There are several common types of claims typically brought against daycare facilities. The first is negligence. A jury will determine whether or not the daycare had a responsibility to your child which was not fulfilled and ultimately caused your child’s injuries.
An example of basic negligence would be a staff member who lifted a two-year-old off from a changing table by one arm, dislocating the arm. Giving a child the wrong medication or feeding a child with a known peanut allergy a peanut butter sandwich might both be considered examples of negligence.
Negligence Per Se
Another type of negligence is known as negligence per se. If there is a causal connection between the harm sustained by your child, and the type of harm the statute was designed to protect, then the negligence might reach the negligence per se level. An example of negligence per se would be when the harm to your child was the result of an improper staff-to-child ratio which led to a potentially life-threatening scenario, such as a child being left to asphyxiate in his or her crib.
Negligent supervision claims do not necessarily require a prior similar act on the daycare property. The standard for negligent supervision lies in whether the danger of the type of harm suffered by your child could have reasonably been foreseen. If your child was hit by a car after getting out of a gate that was unlocked, then this might be reasonably foreseen if the gate is never typically locked.
A determination of foreseeable harm is to ask the question as to whether most reasonable parents would worry that a specific type of situation could hurt their child. Most parents would worry about tall shelves with heavy objects that are not properly connected to the wall, or a swimming pool without a fence and child-proof gate. Therefore, if your child was injured in one of these scenarios at the daycare facility, a negligent supervision claim could be appropriate.
A claim for punitive damages occurs only when the harm suffered by your child was the result of a deliberate or intentional act or a clearly malicious act. Punitive damages are meant to both punish the defendant as well as to deter similar behavior in the future. Thankfully, injuries to a child are rarely deliberate, so punitive damages are generally only viable when there are similar incidents, or when the single incident was particularly heinous.
What Is the Process for Filing a Daycare Injury Claim?
There are a number of necessary steps in the process of filing a daycare injury claim in St. Louis, Missouri. First, you will, of course, determine whether filing a daycare injury claim is the best course of action. This will depend heavily on the strength and credibility of your claim.
Did you incur significant medical expenses as a result of your child’s injury? Even if your own child’s injury was not extremely serious, if the situation that caused the injury is an ongoing situation, then a lawsuit might be appropriate to deter this type of situation in the future.
Once you have determined that a lawsuit is the correct course of action, you will want to contact an experienced daycare negligence lawyer with Finney Injury Law. Our lawyer will then discuss the facts of the case with you, answer any questions you may have, and provide legal advice regarding your claim. Your Finney Injury Law attorney will then take the appropriate steps necessary to file a claim on your behalf and to ensure that claim is filed in a timely manner.
Once the wheels are in motion, your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of your injury or negligence claim. The goal will be to collect the evidence necessary to establish liability on the part of the daycare facility. Your attorney may interview daycare staff members and seek out witnesses to the incident that led to the injury. If the daycare facility or surrounding buildings have surveillance cameras, then that footage will be reviewed. Company policies and procedures will be looked at, and medical bills will be put in order to support financial damages.
At this point, the daycare facility may have the opportunity to “settle” your claim by accepting liability and paying out an amount determined by your attorney. If the facility declines to settle the case, it could proceed to trial. This is the litigation phase. Even if the facility agrees to a settlement, if that settlement is not in the best interests of your child, the case would then proceed to litigation. During litigation, your attorney will advocate on behalf of your child to secure an appropriate financial award.
What if You Signed a Daycare Liability Waiver?
Some parents are asked by their daycare facility to sign a liability waiver. While the language of the liability waiver will differ from one daycare facility to another, the overall purpose is to absolve the daycare facility of any liability, even when a child is injured due to negligence. Many parents sign these waivers as a part of the paperwork required to get their child into a daycare facility, giving little thought to the potential consequences.
When your child is then injured, the daycare facility may bring out the waiver you signed, telling you that you cannot pursue legal action because of the waiver. Waivers of this type usually receive little favor from the courts. In fact, many courts have held that such a waiver flies in the face of public policy. After all, the daycare center is making money for watching your child, therefore should not be able to avoid responsibility for clear negligence. Be sure and tell your daycare injury lawyer if you signed a liability waiver. Even if you did so, legal action may still be a viable course of action.
What Types of Compensation Could You Expect for a Childcare Injury or Negligence Claim?
Compensation in your childcare injury or negligence claim will be directly tied to the circumstances surrounding your child’s injury, and the extent of that injury. That being said, you could be entitled to reimbursement for medical expenses as well as attorney’s fees and case expenses. Your child could be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, or physical impairment resulting from the injury.
Money awarded to your child must be protected for your child, via a trust account maintained by the court. Once your child reaches adulthood, the money will be released to him or her. If the child needs some of the money prior to that, you can petition the court for early release of some of all of the money. A court would only agree to this if such an action was clearly in the best interests of your child.
Are There Time Restrictions on Filing a Childcare Injury or Negligence Claim in St. Louis, Missouri?
Each state has what is known as statutes of limitations. These statutes dictate a window of time in which a person can bring a lawsuit against another person or entity. In the state of Missouri, most personal injury claims must be filed within five years of when the accident/incident occurred—depending on the type of claim.
The quicker your claim is filed, the more likely it is to be successful. As time passes, people move and memories fade, so filing the claim soon after you know of the injury is virtually always the best course of action.
Getting the Help You Need from the Daycare Negligence Lawyers at Finney Injury Law
At Finney Injury Law, we fully understand what a difficult time this is for you and for your child. Handling a childcare injury claim can be emotional and difficult for any parent. No parent wants to think their child could be neglected and injured while in the care of a reputable daycare facility. Yet such injuries can and do happen. If your child’s injury was clearly the result of negligence, we can help.
Our highly experienced daycare injury lawyers are well-versed in the process of such a claim. We can answer all your questions thoroughly and in a way you can fully understand and assist you with handling a childcare injury claim. We will fight for your child’s rights from start to finish, with the goal of obtaining justice for you and for your child. Contact Finney Injury Law today.