By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network
In Pennsylvania and other States, day care centers and child care facilities have a duty to supervise and educate children in a safe and clean environment. There are a number of excellent day care center facilities in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. The day care centers that are properly licensed, have trained staff members, and otherwise comply with State and local laws and regulations are generally more likely to provide the safe educational environment that the children need and deserve. Unfortunately, there are a number of day care centers especially in-home day care centers that fail to get the proper licenses, fail to train staff members, and otherwise violate a whole host of laws and regulations. For those operating under the radar and without any structure or State oversight, children are put at risk and danger. Unfortunately, many children are injured in unlicensed and unsafe day care centers far too often. When a child is injured at a day care center, there may be a case or claim to pursue against the day care center. Here are some factors that a Child Injury Lawyer will consider when evaluating a day care center case for the purpose of filing a lawsuit against the facility for personal injuries sustained by a child.
Licensure of the Day Care Center. When a day care center is licensed, it is more likely to have documentation in place as to facility policies and procedures, student records, activities, and other matters. A review of the records may help establish a case against the day care center when a child is injured. Then again, good records may help establish a defense when it appears that the day care center provided consistent supervision and care while documenting the same. An unlicensed day care center is going to have sparse records. The lack of records may be a positive or negative factor to consider depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.
Liability Insurance. While there is no legal requirement that a facility have liability insurance to be sued, it is often helpful from a practical standpoint for a day care center to have liability insurance in place. A Child Injury Lawyer will typically request liability insurance information early in the representation to determine if there is an insurance source of payment if the case settles or if the case goes to trial. From a practical standpoint, some Child Injury Lawyers may shy away from a case if the facility lacks insurance. Of course, there are exceptions to this general practice if it appears that the day care center has other financial resources or assets to settle as claim or satisfy a judgment if the case is tried.
Proving Negligence – Breach of Duty – Fault. Another factor that will be considered would the ability of the Child Injury Lawyer to prove that the injuries were the result of the negligence or fault of the day care center facility and / or day care center employee. Just the mere fact that a child was injured at the site of the day care center typically is not enough to be able to pursue a case. It must be proved that the day care center or employee acted unreasonably or failed to act in a reasonable manner in supervising and otherwise caring for the children at the facility.
Damages / Injuries. While no child should be injured at a day care center as a result of negligence or other bad acts, a lawsuit will not be filed on every case in which a child suffered injuries as a result of the fault of the day care center. From a practical standpoint, the injuries should be fairly significant to warrant a lawsuit or litigation against the day care center. Of course, each day care center injury case should be evaluated on its own facts and merits.
While the above factors are not necessarily an exhaustive or complete list of factors, most, if not all, of the above factors are considered by most Child Injury Lawyers when making a decision as to whether or not to file a lawsuit against the day care center.
In Bristol Township, Pennsylvania, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 4 year old girl who suffered injuries at the day care center. The owner of the day care center were criminally prosecuted and are not serving prison / jail sentences for their crimes. A lawsuit was filed against the day care center owner. For more information regarding this lawsuit, see Day Care Center Sued in Bristol Township – Pennsylvania in Personal injury Case Involving Child.
Since the day care owners are now in prison / jail, I question whether a settlement from the lawsuit or a jury verdict will result in actual compensation or financial recovery for the injured child. For instance, let’s say that this case goes to trial and results in a $1,000,000 judgment. Then, the Child Injury Attorney will need to collect through the liability insurance policy. If there is no liability insurance, then the Child Injury Lawyer will search for assets to collect upon. If there are no assets, it may just be that the Child Injury Lawyer obtained a large verdict but was unable to collect upon it. In the case that was filed in Bistol Township, it will be interesting to see how the case turns out and if the day care owners had any liability insurance or assets to pay a settlement or satisfy a judgment.
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, Child Abuse, Sports Related Injuries, Theme Park Injuries, and other topics. You can receive this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.