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What are the Legal Rights of Children Molested, Assaulted or Abused at a Day Care Center?

By  David Wolf, Attorney

Kids Wooden Blocks  Falling As Symbol For Education And Learning

Legal Rights of the Injured Child

Across the nation, parents rely upon the facilities to supervise their children in an educational environment that is  clean, healthy, and supportive. Most day care centers and childcare providers do a wonderful job in fulfilling these task. Unfortunately for some children, the day care center is the site of a living nightmare and horrors. The day care center has a duty to hire and train staff members who will meet the needs of the children. Furthermore, the day care center has a duty to keep individuals out of the facility who are a risk or danger to the children.  People who may pose a threat or danger to children may include family members and friends of the day care center owners operators and employees. Let’s take it an example of an employee who has worked at a daycare center for approximately one The boyfriend is a convicted sex offender, an alcoholic, and a drug abuser. The day care center owners and administrators knew the boyfriend and knew of his prior bad acts  and crimes yet still allowed this person to be in the day care center and around the children.  While visiting the day care center on various occasions, the boyfriend molested three of the girls at the day care center.  All three children were 6 years old.  This man was subsequently arrested and charged with crimes against the children and sentenced to life in prison. With respect to the criminal case, one may say that justice prevailed because the bad guy was convicted and will remain the rest of his life in prison. With respect to a civil case or civil matter, is the day care center liable for the ask of this twice for the acts and damages caused by the convicted criminal?  Let’s take a look at the four essential elements of a civil case:

1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;
3. Causation; and
4. Damages.
Under the fact scenario presented, it appears that several case can be established against the day care center, its owners / administrators, and, of course, the convicted sex offender. It should be noted that each case should be evaluated on its own facts and merits.  Certainly, cases are challenged by attorneys defending the day care center and the insurance companies covering the day care center. The facts of the aforementioned case are quite strong.   A case could be brought and there is a good probability that a jury would find the day care center negligent, careless, and irresponsible.   Upon such findings, the jury could assess the issue of damages which would be quite substantial in light of the horrific damages or harm caused by the crimes committed against these children.  Many people would then think that there would be no problems whatsoever in pursuing this civil case.   Well, there is another important that must be considered.  Did the day care center have liability insurance in place?  Many day care centers go without liability insurance even if it is required by state law, the franchise agreement, or other rules, policies, or regulations.   For those facilities with liability insurance question, there will still be a question or issue whether the negligent acts and resulting damages are covered under the policy.  For instance, some insurance policies exclude coverage for intentional or criminal acts like assault or intentional sexual abuse.   Again, each case must be evaluated on its own facts and merits.
The book – 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.