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Does a Gym have a Duty of Reasonable Care as to the Babysitting – Child Care Area?

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In the United States, some businesses including gyms have undertaken the responsibility of babysitting or child care while members are in other parts of the facility. A gym has no duty per se to watch children in general. Furthermore, there typically is no legal requirement for a gym to create, monitor, or supervise a child care area; however, when a gym undertakes or assumes a duty or responsibility then it should do so in a reasonable manner. Some people may believe that there are no regulations for a gym day care center. As such, a gym day care center or child care – babysitter area can act as it pleases and staff as desired. These type of unregulated day care centers should still be subject to a reasonable care standard. For instance, a gym cannot and should hire a convicted child sex offender to watch and care for the children at the day care center. This goes the same for a person with a violent criminal history. Furthermore, the gym child care area should be reasonably inspected for hazards and reasonably maintained by the staff of the gym. As for supervision, this should also be set forth by a reasonable standard. For instance, jump ropes and twine should not be left around infants and toddlers as there is a risk of strangulation. All poisons and other hazards should be kept away from the access of the children at the gym babysitting area.

Before a parent entrusts a child with a gym or any other business, a parent should find out about the policies and procedures for the area. Ask questions about the supervision and maintenance of the area. Ask about the qualification of the staff and the census regarding children being supervised and staff member on duty. If a child case area is not officially regulated then there may be some risks of the gym taking short cuts from providing the quality child care that the children well deserve.

It should be noted that the general elements of a case against a child care provider (licensed or unlicensed) are as follows:

1. Duty;

2. Breach of Duty;

3. Causation; and

4. Damages.

The same concepts would apply to a case against a homeowner. For instance, if a neighbor accepts the responsibility to watch a child for a few minutes or longer, then the neighbor assumes the duty of reasonable care with respect to the child. Like a day care center or a babysitting area, the neighbor should use his or her reasonable efforts to provide for a safe environment for the child and to provide solid supervision to keep the child out of harm’s way. The level of care will depend on the age and maturity of the child being watched.

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, Homeowner’s Insurance, Shopping Center and Mall Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.