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What Are the Hurdles to Civil Justice in a Day Care Center Case Involving Personal Injuiries or Death to a Child?

By Joseph R. Hillebrand Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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When a Child Injury Lawyer evaluates a potential day care or child care case, there are often times four legal factors considered and one very important practical factor considered as part of the analysis or evaluation. Each day care center or child care center child injury case should be evaluated on its own merits, facts, and circumstances. While each case is different from the next, the following factors are considered by a Child Injury Lawyer reviewing a case at the request of a concerned parent or guardian:

1. Duty.
2. Breach of Duty.
3. Caustion.
4. Damages
5. Liability Insurance / Assets.

A day care center has a duty to provide a reasonably safe educational environment for a child enrolled in the day care center. This includes keeping the facility free from hazards and providing for consistent, timely, and sufficient adult staff supervision. If the day care center is negligent or careless in performing these duties, then the day care center may have breached its duty of care to the child. If this negligence or carelessness is the proximate cause of injuries or damages, then there may be a legal case or claim to pursue on behalf of the injured child.

The term “legal case” is purposely used above because a Child Injury Lawyer and parent for that matter must also consider the practical challenges and hurdles to pursuing a day care center injury case on behalf of a child. In particular, if there is a case to pursue, the issue of collectibility of a potential settlement or judgment must be considered. If there is liability insurance in place, then there is a source of collection from the coverage assuming that the acts or negligence of the day care center are covered under the particular policy. Unfortunately, there are many exceptions to coverage under day care policies for intentional acts like assault, abuse, and / or corporal punisment.

If the day care center does not have liability insurance or there is an exemption under the policy, then the assets or financial condition of the day care center should be considered. It should be pointed out that the day care center is liable for the damages caused by the negligence or carelessness. If a child suffers serious personal injuries, the associated damages can be quite substantial; however, it is a completely different issue or question as to the collectibility of the damages set by a settlement or judgment. For example, a $200,000 judgment against a day care center with insurance or assets is worth more than a $1,000,000 judgment against a facility without any insurance or assets. See also Few Witnesses – Lack of Day Care Provider Insurance Leave Grieving Families in a Bind.

As stated above, each case or claim must be considered on its own facts, circumstances, and merits. A concerned parent can read more about day care center claims and cases at The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know. This resource book for parents has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Damages / Compensation, and other topics. Get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.