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What Are the Legal Rights of a Child Who Suffers a Head Injury at a Day Care Center?

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In Michigan and other states, parents rely on day care center to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment during the workday. Whether a child attends an in-home day care center or a commercial day care center, it is important that the child is supervised by a caring and patient adult. Unfortunately, far too many day care workers are not well suited by education, temperament, or maturity to watch young children. It is a well-known fact that infants will cry and toddlers will misbehave. If children were perfect angels who never cried and never misbehaved, there would almost be no need for a day care center. For most children, a day care center is a haven of safety in an otherwise busy world. For others, unfortunately, and in far too many cases, tragically, a day care center is the site of a serious personal injury in the form of head injury, brain damage, skull fracture, shaken baby syndrome, and related injuries.

A recent case of alleged child abuse at a home day care center in northern Michigan demonstrates the reality of these types of tragedies. It was reported that the owner of a home day care shook a seven-month-old baby in her care to the point that the baby stopped breathing. When a child is shaken, the brain can be damaged.  This mechanical / medical condition is simply referred to as shaken baby syndrome.  However simple the name, the brain damage resulting from shaken baby syndrome can have permanent affects on a child and the family caring for that child. Permanent brain damage can result after mere seconds of violent shaking by an adult or older child because of the sensitivity of infants’ softer skulls and developing brains. In the case out of Michigan, reports indicate the shaking of the baby ultimately fractured the infant’s skull, which t did not result in loss of life for the infant, but did result in long-term health consequences.

According to the New York Department of Health, one to three thousand children suffer from shaken baby syndrome each year. A quarter of those children die, and approximately eighty percent of the surviving children suffer from permanent brain damage or other lasting health complications. Injuries of this nature remain completely preventable. The New York Department of Health suggests that when caring for a child that will not stop crying, caregivers lay the child down in safe place, such as a crib or play pen, and take a break, so that they do not burn out and harm the child. See Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome. 

Unfortunately, as seen in Michigan, head traumas of this nature do still occur in day care settings. In these situations, an injured child or the injured child’s parents can seek compensation for the injuries, pain, suffering, medical bills, and other damages.  This is because day cares owe a duty of care to the children in their programs, which they breach when they cause harms of this nature. However, the facts and applicable laws vary from case to case, so parents of children who were injured by a childcare provider should consult with an experienced Child Injury Attorney for advice that specifically applies to their situation.

It should be noted that liability insurance is a key element from a practical standpoint to the successful pursuit of a day care center injury case.  Unfortunately, far too many home day care centers lack liability insurance or alternatively carry a low limits policy.  In other words, some day care centers have insurance but do not have much insurance in light of the damages suffered by the child. Some home day care centers are required to carry a certain amount of insurance to qualify for certain government programs and subsidies.  When a person is selecting a home day care center or a commercial day care center, it is important to ask questions about the day care center including but not limited to liability insurance, licensure, capacity, teacher / child care training, staff – to – child ratios, and other details about the day care center.

David Wolf is an experienced Child Injury Lawyer and the author of eleven books that focus on child injury and safety issues.  The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Centers, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury Book