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By David Wolf, Attorney

book-abcChild care providers should provide each and every child with a safe environment.  There is a duty to provide reasonable and necessary supervision.  While a day care center owner is not liable for every injury that takes place, it can be held liable for those injuries that result from the negligence or carelessness of the day care center provider.  It is vital that a day care center provider not only provide reasonable and necessary supervision but it is also important to provide prompt care and follow up when an injury or condition is observed by the day care center.   Unfortunately, many day care center providers attempt to “sweep or hide an injury under the rug” and fail to inform the parents of the injury so that timely and necessary medical care can be provided to the injured child.
If a child suffers a head injury or skull fracture at a school, summer camp, or day care center, a case or claim can be pursued against the day care center if the following four elements can be proved:
1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;
3. Causation; and
4. Damages.
In Houston, Texas, it was reported that a day care center owner was criminally charged with injuries to a child under her care.  The child was 8 months old.  The day care center owner states that she lost a grip on the child and he fell to the floor. The day care center allegedly did not report the injuries to the parents.  The child was ultimately diagnosed with a fractured skull.   The case or incident is under investigation. See Houston Texas Day Care Center Owner Faces Criminal Charges.
The day care center owner of the unlicensed day care center will be entitled to the services of a public defender or a criminal defense attorney.   The issues at hand will be the following:
How did the child suffer the injuries at the day care center?
Are the injuries consistent with the history of events provided by the day care center owner?
Did the day care center owner know about the head injuries?
Should the day care center owner known about the head injuries?
What symptoms did the child exhibit at the day care center? at home?
What kind of training did the day care center owner have to care for children?
Was the day care center owner required to maintain a day care center license?
Did the delay in notice to the parents cause additional harm to the child?
There are many other issues or questions that may be answered through the criminal investigation. It should be noted that the parents may also pursue a civil case or claim against the day care center owner; however, it is unlikely that the day care center maintained liability insurance. It is also unlikely that there is any homeowner’s insurance in place that would apply to or cover the damages or injuries sustained at a day care center.  A civil case or claim can be brought if a day care center is negligent or proved to be at fault for causing or contributing to the personal injuries of a child; however, it can be an uphill battle collecting any compensation for the personal injuries through a settlement or verdict if there is no liability insurance in place.
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.
Published on:

By David Wolf, Attorney

School Bus CrashDuring the school year, millions of children are transported to and from school in yellow school buses and similar transportation.  Unfortunately for some of these children, a school bus accident results in serious personal injuries and even death.  Like other driving situations, a school bus driver has a duty of reasonable care while transporting children.  If a school bus driver is negligent, then a case or claim can be pursued against the school district, city, and / or county.   It should be noted that the notice requirements are different for public schools and there may be limitations or caps on the damages recoverable by a child when the child is injured due to the negligence of a public school bus driver.  Because of the complexity of these cases, it is important that a parent contact a Child Injury Lawyer for advice, counsel, and, when appropriate legal representation.
A school bus accident was recently reported in Durrango, Colorado in which personal injuries were reported. The school bus was traveling southbound when the driver veered off the side of the road and rolled down an embankment.  You can read more about the school bus crash at Durrango Colorado School Bus Rolls Over – Children Suffer Personal Injuries. 
When evaluating a personal injury case or claim, it is important to review the four essential elements of a case as follows:
1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;
3. Causation; and
4. Damages
When evaluating a personal injury case, it is important to pay close attention to each of the four elements including the element of damages.   Let’s say a child is injured in a school bus accident and sees his pediatrician one time.  There were no permanent scars or injuries and treatment was limited to that one visit.  Under this fact pattern, the damages are quite limited and the value of the case would then be quite limited.  Here is another fact pattern to consider. Let’s say a child suffers a fractured leg from the school bus accident.  The child ultimately needs surgery and undergoes 6 months of physical therapy.  This case would be valued much differently than the one pediatrician visit case.  Whether the injuries are minor or more serious, a parent should contact a Child Injury Lawyer to discuss the facts of the case and potential courses of action.   The book titled – When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Need to Know After the Accident – has chapters on Automobile Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Wrongful Death, and other topics. You can get this book for free at When the Wheels Stop Spinning. 
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By David Wolf, Attorney
Football ConcussionsIn high schools across the country, there is a tradition of sportsmanship, athleticism, school spirit, and, yes, concussions.   It is estimated that a high school player averages 650 head impacts per season.  Dr. Steven Miles and Dr. Shailendra Prasad of the University of Minnesota have taken a bold position that football be removed from schools across the country.  This is a bold statement at this time; however, as more information is gathered and studies regarding concussions and the long term effects on academic performance, memory, and cognitive functioning, more medical providers and other concerned people will join in and recommending and pushing for the ban on football.  Time will tell what happens and what social forces and influences will be put in place.  While football equipment has advanced over time in the form of helmet technology and padding, there does not appear to be any safety measure that has been put in place that can effectively prevent all or most concussions from taking place.  This will only happen with either a ban on football completely OR a drastic change in the way in which football games are played. You can read more about the position taken by these medical providers at Minnesota Doctors Recommend that High School Football Be Eliminated
At this time, football is a major sport in high school athletics.  There are some programs that have been discontinued due to financial constraints and some may even be discontinued for safety reasons; however, football still serves as an important focus for most communities – big and small in high schools.   It is important that coaches, administrators, and trainers be diligent about concussion awareness, prevention, and responsiveness.   If it is a suspected that a player has suffered a concussion, it is vital that all precautions be put in place for the protection of the player.   The safety of a child should be paramount over all other concerns including but not limited to competition.
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By David Wolf, AttorneyPublished by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

cal-0814-va4-nurser_04In New Hampshire and other States, hard working parents rely on day care centers to supervise their children in a safe and nurturing environment.  It is well known that children especially toddlers need supervision at all times in all parts of the day care center including the classroom and the playground.  If supervision is lacking, a child may end up suffering serious personal injuries or even death while at the day care center.  It is important that the supervision provided be in compliance with local and state day care center regulations including the staff to child ratio, background checks, and training.  Furthermore, distracted supervision is not the same as supervision.  If a teacher or child care provider is present or near the children but otherwise occupied by a mobile phone, tablet, or some other distraction, supervision may be lacking which, in turn, may lead to serious consequences and injuries.
In New Hampshire, it was reported that a day care owner was convicted in a criminal proceeding for the death of a 4 year old girl.  The incident took place in the backyard of the home day care center located in Enfield, New Hampshire.  It was alleged that the day care center owner put the children at risks for the lack of supervision.  The child died after a two day hospitalization.  The child was found hanging by her coat in the backyard.  This was a criminal proceeding involving the conviction of the day care owner. Since the facility was unlicensed, there is a strong probability that there was a lack of liability insurance.  Because of this, there were most likely practical financial obstacles to successfully pursuing a civil case AND collecting upon a settlement or judgment. See New Hampshire Day Care Center Owner Convicted in Death of Four Year Old Child. 
It should be noted that a civil case is different than a criminal case. Namely, the burden of proof is typically higher in a criminal case. The alleged guilty of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the common standard is to prove the negligence or fault of the child care provider and / or day care center by a preponderance of the evidence. The four basic elements of a civil case are as follows:
Breach of Duty;
Causation; and
If the above elements can be proven, then there may be a civil case or claim to pursue on behalf of the child who suffered injuries or who died as a result of the negligence or fault of the day care center providers.   All four elements must be established. Merely proving that there was a mistake or a failure to follow a policy, procedure, or regulation is not enough.  Also, there are practical considerations as previously stated. If there is no liability insurance or sufficient assets to collect a settlement or judgment, it may be quite impractical to pursue a claim or case even if all of the above elements can be clearly established.
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.
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By David Wolf, Attorney and Samantha Vloedman, Law Clerk

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

book-abcIn Tennessee and other States, working parents rely upon day care centers to provide the health, safety, welfare, supervision, and guidance of their children. When selecting a day care center, a parent has a number of factors to consider including location, costs, hours, compliance, history, licensure, and in some States like Tennessee a Star Quality Program.

The Star Quality Program in Tennessee has provided parents with a short-cut of sorts for narrowing down the prospective day care centers a parent may want to conduct a full investigation on before registering their children. Under the Star Quality Program, Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) conducts an evaluation of licensed day care centers. These evaluations are converted into a Three Star Rating. The more stars a day care center had earned means the higher the standards the day care center satisfies.

Evaluations by DHS include the review of seven different categories. The categories are: direct qualifications, professional development, developmental learning, parent/family involvement, ratio and group size, staff compensation, and a program assessment. The program assessment include DHS observing the day care center in action. Most parents would likely agree that these are some of the categories that they evaluate themselves when determining which day care center to attend.

Parents in Tennessee should be aware that not all day care centers are eligible to participate in the Star Quality Program. Day care centers are prohibited from participating in the program if the day care center has had a major civil penalty, five or more minor civil penalty, or has had issues with its license being renewed or suspended within a certain period of time.

Day care centers can also lose stars. This means that if parents have selected a day care provider with a higher star rating and the day care provider falls short of its requirements to satisfy that rating, that star rating will be revised. Parents will see that the star rating has been revised and can investigate further to determine whether they would like to continue allowing their child to attend the day care facility.

With the Star Quality Program, DHS has done some of the leg work for the parent by allowing the parent to focus on the day care providers with higher star ratings first. The stars are not only for overall performance of the day care center, but also stars are assigned for each category that is evaluated. Accordingly, parents can look at the star ratings for the categories that are most important to the parent when making the decision of which day care center to have their child attend.

Once a day care center is selected, it is the parent’s rightful expectation that a child is cared for in a manner that is professional, organized, and safe. If for some reason a child is injured while under the supervision of a day care center, the parent should reach out to a Child Injury Lawyer to discuss the child’s rights and remedies under the applicable laws in place. A good resource for parents is the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know. This book has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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By  David Wolf, Attorney and Samantha Vloedman, Law Clerk

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

Building Blocks Glossy - P - Day Care CenterIn New York and other States, a parent finds out the true quality or better stated deficiencies with a day care center only after a child is injured or after a child died at a day care center.  A recent death of an infant made State of New York and National headlines.  The child died at an unlicensed day care center on the first day that he was under the so-called supervision of a day care center.

When a day care center is licensed, the appropriate regulatory agencies monitor the day care center and have strict requirements for maintaining the day care center’s license. These requirements vary from State to State and can include background checks on employees, proper training for all employees, and minimum required liability insurance coverage among other requirements. If a day care center does not meet these requirements, a regulatory agency can impose sanctions, up to and including revoking the license of the day care center.

Unlicensed day care centers pose a frightening problem to parents. Without a license, the State may not be aware that the day care center is operating. Accordingly, the day care center is not under the watchful eye of the appropriate regulatory agencies. This means that background checks on employees are likely not completed, training may be lacking, and the probability of the day care center have liability insurance in place is likely slim to none.

Many parents rely on the word of the day care center that it is licensed and the staff is properly trained. This reliance may happen when an unlicensed provider has been operating for many years. The parents in the New York case had this situation happen to them. The parents relied on the word of the owner of the day care center, a day care center that has been operating unlicensed for fourteen years. The parents were assured that the owner and staff were CPR certified. Tragically, the parents learned too late that the day care center was unlicensed, overcrowded, and the owner performed improper CPR on their child and he died.

When a child in injured at a day care center, parents may pursue an insurance claim or file law suits to obtain monetary damages for the injury or death of their child. If a licensed day care center is required to own liability insurance, there is a good probability that it has the requisite insurance; however, many vehicle owners are required to have insurance but fail to maintain it. As such, there is no guarantee that any facility – licensed or unlicensed – has liability insurance in place. It is certainly an excellent question for a parent to ask of a day care center Ask for a copy of the policy. If the day care center takes issue with the request, you may want to find another day care center.

When a day care center is insured, there is a funding source in place to compensate the parents of the injured child when there is a settlement or verdict awarding such damages. With unlicensed facilities, it is very unlikely that there is this funding source (insurance) or sufficient assets in place to cover or pay for a prospective settlement or verdict.

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By  David Wolf, Attorney and Samantha Vloedman, Law Clerk

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

Statue of Liberty
In New York and other States, busy working parents rely on the staff and administration at day care centers to supervise their children during the work day.   Some parents select day care centers based on price and location only.  Others do a bit more homework and check out online reviews and State of New York inspection reports.  Lawmakers in New York are proposing a new rating system that would be similar in concept to that of restaurant ratings in which the rating is prominently displayed on premises.

New York State’s Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) is designed to promote higher quality in day care providers and services.  See New York Day Care Centers – Quality Stars Program.Any licensed day care provider can receive One Star. Additional Stars may be awarded with submission of additional documentation regarding the satisfaction of four categories used for ratings. The four categories are: Learning Environment; Family Engagement; Qualifications and Experience; and Management and Leadership. Each category has a list of subcategories for rating the day care providers. The subcategories are converted into points and then certain points lead to the number of Stars a day care provider may be awarded.

The goal of the rating system and improving the quality of day care providers is to protect children. With higher standards and a method for monitoring the standards, the instances of injuries to children should decline. For example, several subcategories that are measured for determining the environmental ratings of a day care center include space and furnishings; interactions; and parents and staff. If even one of these is lacking, a child could get injured. For instance, if the furnishings are not child friendly (have sharp corners) or are spaced too close together, a child could easily, when not properly supervised, hit his head on the sharp corner and suffer a laceration that could require stitches, a concussion, skull fracture, or other life threatening injuries.

When a child suffers injuries or dies in a New York day care center, a legal case can be pursued if the four basic elements of a cause of action can be established. The elements are as follows:

  1. Duty
  2. Breach of Duty
  3. Causation
  4. Damages

Let’s put some facts in place to illustrate the proof of these four elements. Let’s say an infant is being changed on a changing table. The child care worker leaves the infant on the table for one minute to help another child a few feet away.   The infant rolls off the table and suffers a fractured skull. The actions of the child care worker were no intentional but the actions were careless.   The child care worker had a duty to provide the infant with a safe environment and keep the child out of harm’s way. The child care worker breached this duty when she left the child unattended on a table.   This, in turn, caused the damages or injuries in the form of a skull fracture. This would be a legal case to pursue.   It would also be a practical case to pursue assuming that there was liability insurance in place or the day care center otherwise had sufficient assets to cover the damages, settlement, or verdict.

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

With the proper ratings of day care providers and periodic monitoring, instances of negligence, like the one described above, can be reduced. As more providers obtain higher Stars, the competition for the Stars will likely increase. In turn, one can suspect that overall quality and safety of children at day care providers should improve.

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By  David Wolf, Attorney and Samantha Vloedman, Law Clerk

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

Building Blocks - B - Day Care CenterIn New Mexico and other States, children are supervised in day care centers by child care providers who in most facilities provide a safe and loving environment for the children. Unfortunately, there are child care providers out there who simply lack the patience, training, maturity, and proper attitude to serve as child care providers.  Some of these child care providers respond to a child that is crying or otherwise not following instructions by assaulting, dragging, striking, or otherwise abusing the child in the very setting that should be a safe haven for the child.

One mother in Albuquerque, New Mexico recently learned the child care provider her son attended was not the loving and safe environment she once thought. While at the child care center, this mother saw a young child crying. A parent would expect that the child would be comforted. However, to this mother’s surprise, the child care provider simply dragged the crying child by the arm across the floor and put the child in another room. After being dragged by the arm, the child was left in that room.

As any concerned parent would, the mother began wondering whether this had ever happened to her son. While she was asking employees about the incident, she was told by one employee that “[t]his kind of thing happens all the time.” As any concerned parent would, she removed her son from the child care provider and reported the incident to the Children, Youth and Families Department (CFYD).

Dragging a child by the arm is only one of many abuses that children may suffer at a child care provider. There are reported instances of violent rocking of infants, hitting, and abusing children. Unless the child is of an age where the child can speak, it is difficult to know what goes on at child care provider once a parent drops the child off and leaves.

There are steps that a parent can take to try and demystify what happens once the parent leaves the child care provider. The first step is conducting research before registering a child for a child care provider. This research can include checking for reports at the local department of children and families or asking trusted friends and family for recommendations. Another step is to make unannounced visits to the child care provider. When child care providers are aware that a parent is coming to visit or pick up their child, the child care providers will likely be more conscious of their actions and be on their “best behavior.” Finally, when a parent witnesses abuse of a child, whether it is their own child or the child of another, at a child care provider, the parent should report the abuse to the appropriate agency, such as the local department of children and families.

Keeping their children safe is the priority of most parents. Taking the appropriate steps to ensure that the child care provider is a safe and loving environment may not always be the easiest task. However, taking smalls steps to demystify what happens behind closed doors can help ensure a safe and caring environment for children.

If a child is harmed due to abuse or neglect at a day care center, a parent should seek legal advice to determine the child’s legal rights and appropriate and available courses of action.   A Child Injury Lawyer can help review the relevant facts, laws in place, and practicalities of pursuing a claim or case against the day care center.  The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters 0n Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.


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By  David Wolf, Attorney and Samantha Vloedman, Law Clerk

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

Poster art illustration of an american football gridiron runningback player running with ball facing front done in retro style with words National League Championship.

Throughout the United States, children are being injured in youth sports every day.  Certainly, there are risks in most every sport. However, many injuries can be prevented with better supervision. Furthermore, when a child is injured, it is vital that coaches and trainers take timely action to address the injury and potential complications. This is especially true when a child suffers a head injury.

Recently a high school football player in Texas was struck so hard during a game that he was knocked completely unconscious. Once the player regained consciousness, the coaching staff and trainers discovered the young player had lost his memory. The memory loss was due to the concussion he suffered as a result of the hit.

Unfortunately, this is an example of only one of the almost 200,000 head injuries that children suffer while playing sports each year. The information regarding exactly which sports the children were playing when the injury was received or the extent of the injury is unclear. Some, but not all States, have reporting requirements for students injured during sports. However, some of the States that require reporting, like Texas, only require injuries in football be reported.

Not all serious injuries or head injuries occur in football. One high school football player had two concussions in a three year period. Each of the two concussions were sustained in a different sport. The first concussion was caused from a hit in football. The second concussion was from being hit in the head with a discus during track practice. Accordingly, only one of the two concussions, the one from football, has a chance of even being reported in Texas.

Parents are concerned for the safety of their children, but also want their children to live healthy active lifestyles. It is difficult for parents to guide their children toward safer sports when there are inaccurate statistics about injuries, if there are statistics that exist at all.

States are beginning to recognize the problem with the lack of reporting of injuries suffered by students during sports. Several States, including Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Idaho, and West Virginia, are placing mandatory reporting requirements of all concussions. The mandatory reporting is required no matter what sport the injury occurs in.

Without knowing the frequency of head injuries, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine what sports need additional safety measures to keep children safe. By collecting the data regarding injuries, medical value can be obtained. In addition, if head injuries are mandatorily reported in all sports, schools will be able to monitor how many total head injuries students have suffered and in what time period those head injuries have occurred.

Head injuries should not be taken lightly. As noted, a concussion can cause a child to lose his memories. The memory loss described was from a single concussion. It can only be speculated what would happen if a student suffered multiple head injuries in a short amount of time. Better reporting of injuries suffered by student athletes should be implemented.

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Sports Injuries, Playground Injuries, School Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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By  David Wolf, Attorney and Samantha Vloedman, Law Clerk

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

Building Blocks LIn Illinois and other States, parents rely upon day care centers to provide a safe, nurturing environment for their children during the busy work day. For most children on most days, a day care center provides proper supervision to keep the children safe and out of danger. Unfortunately, there are days (far too many days) when a child is injured while under the so called watch of a day care center.

A three year-old under the supervision of an Illinois day care center drowned during a day trip to a recreation and wellness center. The young boy wandered away from the group. It took approximately fifteen minutes before the day care providers realized that the young boy was missing and then another fifteen minutes to find him unconscious in the river. The young boy was pronounced dead at the hospital about an hour after the police were notified of his disappearance.

Licensed day care centers have guidelines set in place in an attempt to keep children safe. One such guideline is the ratio of adults to children. The ratio is determined by the age and needs of the children. The younger the child, the lower the ratio of adults to children. The ratio of adults to children only provides a minimum physical presence of adults to provide supervision to the children.  The satisfaction or compliance with the ratio does not necessarily equate with the provision of attentive supervision.  Far too often, adults are distracted by cell phones, tablets, or other circumstances. Tending to children requires undivided attention and proper training by day care providers.

Children are curious and are not aware of what dangers lie in front of them. A dangerous situation will catch a child’s eye and the child will wander towards the danger to investigate it further. Examples of dangerous situations include attractive nuisances in the form of pools, lakes, and other bodies of water. Children are mesmerized by the rippling and shiny water. The idea of splashing in the water, like splashing in the bathtub at home, is all too tempting to a young child. In the blink of an eye, without careful and attentive supervision of an adult, a child can easily get too close to the edge of the water and fall in.

A quick newsfeed check or text about who will pick up the dry cleaning can end in disaster. The number one priority of day care centers should be the safety of the children in the care of the center. This means putting off checking email, texts, and other distractions. Continuous attention is a must when caring for young children. Day care providers should always know exactly where all of the children they are responsible for are and never have a child unaccounted for, for any length of time.

A good resource for a parent dealing with the aftermath of an injury caused by the negligence of a day care center or other entity is the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know. This book has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, Water Park and Aquatic Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.