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What are the Rights of Parents Against an Unlicensed Day Care Center Where a Child Suffers Injuries or Dies?

By  David Wolf, Attorney and Samantha Vloedman, Law Clerk

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

Building Blocks Glossy - P - Day Care CenterIn New York and other States, a parent finds out the true quality or better stated deficiencies with a day care center only after a child is injured or after a child died at a day care center.  A recent death of an infant made State of New York and National headlines.  The child died at an unlicensed day care center on the first day that he was under the so-called supervision of a day care center.

When a day care center is licensed, the appropriate regulatory agencies monitor the day care center and have strict requirements for maintaining the day care center’s license. These requirements vary from State to State and can include background checks on employees, proper training for all employees, and minimum required liability insurance coverage among other requirements. If a day care center does not meet these requirements, a regulatory agency can impose sanctions, up to and including revoking the license of the day care center.

Unlicensed day care centers pose a frightening problem to parents. Without a license, the State may not be aware that the day care center is operating. Accordingly, the day care center is not under the watchful eye of the appropriate regulatory agencies. This means that background checks on employees are likely not completed, training may be lacking, and the probability of the day care center have liability insurance in place is likely slim to none.

Many parents rely on the word of the day care center that it is licensed and the staff is properly trained. This reliance may happen when an unlicensed provider has been operating for many years. The parents in the New York case had this situation happen to them. The parents relied on the word of the owner of the day care center, a day care center that has been operating unlicensed for fourteen years. The parents were assured that the owner and staff were CPR certified. Tragically, the parents learned too late that the day care center was unlicensed, overcrowded, and the owner performed improper CPR on their child and he died.

When a child in injured at a day care center, parents may pursue an insurance claim or file law suits to obtain monetary damages for the injury or death of their child. If a licensed day care center is required to own liability insurance, there is a good probability that it has the requisite insurance; however, many vehicle owners are required to have insurance but fail to maintain it. As such, there is no guarantee that any facility – licensed or unlicensed – has liability insurance in place. It is certainly an excellent question for a parent to ask of a day care center Ask for a copy of the policy. If the day care center takes issue with the request, you may want to find another day care center.

When a day care center is insured, there is a funding source in place to compensate the parents of the injured child when there is a settlement or verdict awarding such damages. With unlicensed facilities, it is very unlikely that there is this funding source (insurance) or sufficient assets in place to cover or pay for a prospective settlement or verdict.