By Andrew Baker, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Children, especially toddlers, are unsteady on their feet. It is common for a child to fall throughout the day. While in a day care center, summer camp, or school, a child may fall through no fault of the child care providers. Then again, some falls are preventable with better maintenance of the facility and / or with better supervision. Since child care providers should know in advance that children are prone to falling, safety precautions should be put in place to prevent falls and / or to prevent serious personal injuries from resulting from a fall. Let’s take an example.
Let’s say that a day care center organized a game of tag on the concrete patio area. There were twenty kids of all ages playing with just one child care provider. The game got rough but the day care center worker was over on the side of the patio area busy with her mobile phone. During the game of tag, a 10 year old ran into one of the 3 year old. As a result of the fall, the 3 year old suffered a serious head / brain injury and was rushed to the hospital. When evaluating potential cases like these, there are four essential elements are are considered:
2. Breach of Duty;
3. Causation; and
As to the above example, the day care center had a duty to supervise the children. Furthermore, the selection for the game of tag on a concrete surface was a bad idea. Furthermore, having larger and older children play a contact type of game with smaller children was another bad idea. Was it foreseeable that a child would be injured during this activity? The answer is absolutely yes. The day care center put this child in harm’s way with limited to no supervision. The elements of a case can be established. The burden is on the parents through their attorney to prove the elements of a case. The fact that a child fell and was injured does not without further proof of negligence on the part of the day care center adequately proof up a case.
There was a report of a death as a potential result of a fall a Ohio day care center recently. It was reported that a 7 year old child died at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The news story titled Police Investigate Death of Child at Home Based Day Care Center did not have much in the way of details to determine if the incident was foreseeable and / or preventable. An investigation is pending. When a child dies under these circumstances, an autopsy and forensic investigation are typically performed by state and / or local officials.
A good resource for parents is the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, Playground Injuries, School Injuries, Theme Park and Attraction Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.