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Is a Day Care Center Liable When a Child Suffers Injuries or Dies from a Choking Incident?

By George Podgorny, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network


Children require supervision due to a number of reasons. One involves the risk of choking. The level of risk depends on the age and physical development of the child. In the day care center, a child can choke on a food object or an everyday object like a coin, part of a toy, and other objects. Because of the real risk of choking, it is important for a day care center and its staff to maintain a safe environment that is free from hazards including those relating to choking.

Is a day care center liable when a child suffers injuries or dies from a choking incident? Like many legal and practical issues that are presented to me as a Child Injury Lawyer and Child Safety Advocate, the answer is “it depends.” There are a number of factors to consider when a child suffers injuries or dies as a result of a choking incident. These include but are not limited to the following:

the age of the child;
the physical development of the child;
the cognitive development of the child;
special needs of the child;
the dietary restrictions of the child;
allergies of the child;
number of staff members in place at the time of the incident;
training of the staff members in CPR and choking prevention;
response of the staff members to the choking incident;
preventability of the choking incident;
foreseeability of the choking incident; and
other factors.

A simple food item like a carrot or hot dog can be deadly to an infant or toddler. Furthermore, an everyday object like a coin or part of a toy can also be deadly. Because of these risk factors, it is vital that a day care center follow the State mandated child care regulations, its own rules and regulations, and otherwise exercise common sense and due diligence as to the maintenance of the day care center and the supervision of the children enrolled in the day care center.

A recent choking incident was reported in North Carolina. It was reported that a child choked on a piece of food at the Lucky Ducks Child Care in King, North Carolina. Tragically, the child died as a result of the choking incident. It was reported that the cause of death of accidental choking per the autopsy. The King Police Department reported that the State Bureau of Investigation will review the incident. You can read more about this story at Child Chokes to Death at King North Carolina Day Care Center.

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.

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