In Arkansas and other states, parents rely upon day care centers to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment during the workday. For those who choose to own a day care center or work in one, it is important that safety needs of all the children, especially infants and toddlers, are met. Unfortunately for far too many children, injuries and incidents take place that are otherwise avoidable and preventable. In particular, injuries and incidents tend to take place when older children are permitted to play in an area occupied by much younger children. For instance, a 10 year old who has issues with hyperactivity and space issues should not be placed in the same room with an infant or toddler. Most states have rules and regulations in place regarding staff-to-child ratios and the proper supervision and separation of children by age in the day care setting.
Despite these requirements, injuries to children in day care centers still occur. As recently reported in the news of Arkansas, bite injuries are an example of potential harm that can come to children in day care. According to Mayo Clinic, human bite injuries can be even more dangerous than animal bites because of the differing strains of bacteria and viruses contained in human mouths. Correspondingly, children who sustain these types of injuries should seek medical attention because a tetanus shot may be necessary or an infection may arise. See Mayo Clinic – Risks of Infection – Human Bites. Therefore, biting is a potentially serious problem and should be avoided through consistent supervision and the following of the applicable rules and standards for day care centers.
With this in mind, a day care may be liable for a bite injury sustained by a child in its care. Though a day care center is not the absolute insurer of a child’s safety, day cares do owe their charges a duty of reasonable care. This means that day care centers should take reasonable precautions to safeguard the children in their care. Because biting is a common behavior in children, day care centers should take reasonable precautions to prevent it. For example, in the situation out of Arkansas, it was reported that caregivers laid down a 10-month-old baby for tummy time when an older child bit him. Reports also indicate that the older child was not supposed to be in that area and was known to bite. While it would probably be unreasonable to expect that the day care provide one to one supervision for every child, it would likely be reasonable to expect that the day care follow procedures about separating age groups, especially with a child with a known history of biting.
Overall, day care centers owe children under their supervision a duty of reasonable care. If one child bites another, then the day care may be liable if it breached its duty of care to the child who was bitten. If the day care is liable, then the injured child may be entitled to compensation. Nonetheless, every situation is different, so parents of an injured child should seek the advice of an experienced Child Injury Attorney regarding the relevant laws and facts of the specific case.