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Can a Personal Injury Case be Pursued if a Child Wanders Away From a Day Care Center?

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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Every day care center had a duty to provide for the supervision, education, and recreation of children while parents are busy with their jobs. While at the day care center, parents expect that their children will be supervised, fed, entertained to some extent, and otherwise kept out of harm’s way. One essential and vital duty of every day care center in the nation is to make sure that each and every child remains under the watch or supervision of the day care center. Unfortunately due to lack of proper staffing, lack of supervision, and/or lack of proper safety precautions, children often wander away from a day care center andwalk out into the community near streets, strangers and other dangers. Many such instances are reported to state agency that regulates day care centers and to news media outlets.

Fortunately and miraculously in many instances, the child is safely return to the day care center as a result of the late but necessary actions of the day care staff, shear good luck with the child returning on his or her own, or the actions of a good Samaritan. Is there a claim Porcase to pursue when a child wonders away from a daycare center? That is a broad question that cannot be easily answered for every case. Like most legal matters, it all depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.

In most legal matters involving involving the harm or potential harm of a child, there are typically four legal elements or factors to prove as follows duty, breach of duty, causation and damages. When a child wanders away from a daycare center while under the supposed supervision of the staff, it typically can’t be proved that there was a duty to supervise, in this vital duty was breached it is the second two elements that tend to be somewhat more challenging under this fact pattern which are causation and damages. The following questions or issues are part of the evaluation of the potential claim or case:

Did the incident cause damages or harm to the child?

What damages are to the child was there?

Well, the stress for both of the parents and the child of the child being missing for any period of time is quite real. It is also common for there to be emotional trauma and fear after-the-fact.

From a legal standpoint, a case may be established establishing the aforementioned four elements. However, each case should be evaluated out of facts and circumstances. In addition, there will be some practical issues considered when evaluating the case. When there are no physical injuries and the emotional stress was limited to the event itself, a liability insurance company for the day care center may not be willing to compensate the child or the family since the damages are somewhat limited. Of course, there is no excuse in many instances for allowing a child to wander away from a day care center or the group on a field trip. However, day care centers and their insurance carriers do not necessary issue a check just for the sole reason that an incident took place. Again, there needs to be an evaluation of the four elements of the case and especially the last element when evaluating the viability of a claim or case on behalf of a child who wandered away from a day care center. If there were physical injuries and especially serious ones, a case should be pursued by the parents to seek the rightful compensation for the damages suffered by the child.

When an incident takes place at a day care center that causes harm in any way to a child – physical and /or emotional – the parents should contact a Child Injury Lawyer to discuss the rights of the child and legal responsibilities of the day care center. The book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – was written by David Wolf, who has spent his entire legal career dedicated to the rights of children and serving their best interests as a child injury lawyer and a child safety advocate. The 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.