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Dangers of Hot Cars to Children Enrolled in Day Care Centers – Legal Rights and Criminal Proceedings

By Will Brown, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network


Children are at risk for personal injuries and, in some instances, even die when left in a day care center van, bus, or vehicle. The exposure of the child to extreme heat or cold can lead to hyperthermia or hypothermia. This, in turn, can have fatal consequences and end the life of an innocent child. Whether the child is left in a vehicle for convenience or left in the vehicle due to negligence, inattention, or forgetfulness, the results can be the same. The problem is that many day care providers and child care providers do not recognize or understand the risks of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle even for a few minutes. It is vital that a day care center have policies and procedures in place when transporting a child and that the day care center FOLLOW these policies and procedures. By properly completing a simple checklist – a child’s life can be saved.

When a child suffers an injury or death as a result of the negligence or improper supervision at a day care center, a child injury attorney can help the family pursue a civil case or claim for damages. The attorney can seek compensation for the child and family for medical bills, funeral bills, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages. 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, Automobile Accidents, Damages / Compensation, and other topics. Get the book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

Proper safety precautions should be followed for the health, safety, and well being of each child enrolled in a day care center. The following safety precautions should be followed when transporting a child enrolled in a day care center:

1. Attendance Sheet. An attendance sheet or checklist should be maintained that contains the name of each child transported by the day care center.

2. Roll Call When Loading the Bus. A roll call should be taken when the child loads the bus.

3. Roll Call When Unloading the Bus. A roll call should be taken when the child unloads from the bus.

4. Sweep or Walk Through of Bus, Van, or Vehicle. A visual sweep and walk through of the van, bus, or vehicle should be completed to make sure that no children have been left in the vehicle.

5. Roll Call at Destination / Day Care Center. When the children are unloaded from the bus and arrive at the destination, another roll call should be taken when the children are off the bus.

6. Installation and Use of Alarm. A van or bus alarm can be installed in the vehicle. The alarm will sound until turned off. Typically, the alarm is installed in the back of the bus so that the driver or attendant is forced to walk to the back of the vehicle to turn off the alarm. This, in turn, will require the driver / attendant to check the entire bus / van.

When a child is injured as a result of being left in a day care center van or bus, criminal charges are often times pressed against the day care center operator and / or the driver / attendant with the day care center. It was reported in Akron, Ohio that the owner of a home day care center pled No Contest to criminal charges. The case stemmed from the death of a 13 month old girl – Aolani McCray – who was left in a vehicle while under the care of the day care center. Involuntary Manslaughter was the particular charge pursued by law enforcement officials. The day care center operator was sentenced to community control (probation) and community service. See Ohio Day Care Center Operator Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Charges.

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