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What Are the Elements of a Case Against a Day Care Center When a Child Dies?

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network


Day care centers throughout the Nation have a common duty to provide for the supervision and education of children enrolled in the program. While individual States have a unique regulations for daycare centers, day care centers have this common duty to provide for the well-being of the child by providing proper supervision and care. When a child dies at a day care or child care center, there may be a civil case to pursue a legal case against the day care center. The four elements of a case against the day care center consists of the following:

1. Duty.
The general duties of a day care center are to provide for the supervision, care, and education of the children. The day care center should follow and take reasonable measures to provide for the needs of the children and to otherwise follow State and local regulations applicable to day care centers.

2. Breach of Duty.
Breach refers to the failure of the day care center to act reasonably or the negligence of the day care center in providing for the care of the child.

3. Causation.
Causation refers to the link between the breach of duty and the death. In other words the breach of duty was the proximate clause of the death of the child. For instance, let’s say that the day care center with license to care for 10 children. At the time of the incident, the day care center had 20 children in the facility. While the child was present at the day care center, the child died from a congenital heart condition that was unknown to the family physicians or day care center. The death was sudden and unpreventable. While the daycare center violated State regulations as to the capacity for a day care center, it does not appear that the excessive number of children at the facility was a link or cause of the death of the child. Let’s take another example with similar facts. The facility was overcapacity the child wondered out the front door the facility and was hit by a motor vehicle. In this case there was a lack of supervision and a lack of sufficient personnel to monitor the children. In this instance, the violation of the State regulations along with the improper supervision would be causes or links to the damages or death of the child.

4. Damages.
Damages refers to the injuries sustained and the compensation awardable per State law.

All four elements need to be proved. If there is a problem or issue with any one of these elements, there may be a defense to the case and related difficulty in recovering compensation due to the death of child.

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, Medical Treatment and Bills, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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