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Is a Georgia Day Care Center Liable for the Death of a Child When There are Rule Violations?

By Scott Zahler, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Brunswick, Georgia and other cities, day care centers are responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the children enrolled in the program. Home based Georgia day care centers are regulated, inspected, and governed by DECAL – Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. DECAL is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families. Here is a link to the website for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

It was recently reported that a child was found unresponsive in a Brunswick Georgia day care center. Subsequent to the child’s death, state regulators closed down the facility. The story was covered by News 4 Jax. Here is a link to the news report – Brunswick Day Care Center Closed After Boy’s Death.

There were prior violations reported as to the day care center – Generations Kids Childcare. However, it should be noted that some of the violations may not have link to the child’s death. For instance, there was a violation for a fence that was in disrepair. While this may have been a violation, this particular prior violation may have no link whatsoever to the death of the child at this Georgia day care center. Is a day care center liable for a child’s death when there are violations of applicable regulations? The answer is not so simple. It depends on the nature of the violation and the link or relationship to the child’s death. Here are the four elements of a civil case for the wrongful death of a child:

1. Duty;

2. Breach of Duty;

3. Causation; and

4. Damages.

All four elements must be met in order to be able to pursue a civil case or claim for the alleged wrongful death of a child at a day care center. As you can see above, the third element – Causation – is one of the four elements. The Causation element is often the most difficult element to prove as part of a case against a day care center, school, business, or other entity involved with the care and supervision of a child. Here are some the questions or issues that are evaluated as part of child death cases:

How was the child’s health prior to the incident?

What violations were found at the day care center?

What did the autopsy reveal as to the cause and mechanism of death?

Was the incident preventable?

What could the day care center have done to prevent the incident from taking place?

If the incident happened during sleep or rest time, how was the sleeping area set up?

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.