By Steven R. Smith, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network
In New York and other States, parents rely on family members, friends, neighbors, and others to serve as babysitters. While most babysitters are very caring individuals, there are some babysitters out there who lack the training, experience, personality, responsibility, and / or temperament to effectively serve, work, or volunteer as a babysitter. While it is often times helpful to do a background check on a babysitter, this is not always practical and many parents lack the funds or know how in conducting a background search on the babysitter. Some babysitters may have a clean criminal record but still present a danger to the child entrusted to the babysitter’s care. When the actions or inactions of a babysitter results in a the harm or injury to a child, there may be legal ramifications to the incident:
Criminal Charges. A babysitter can be arrested if there is evidence or probable cause to support an investigation that the babysitter intentionally assaulted the child or was criminal negligent in the supervision and / or care of the child. The local police and State Attorney / prosecutor’s office work together to determine which cases to prosecute and the charges to bring against a babysitter whose actions caused harm to a child.
Administrative Case. If the babysitter worked at a day care center, school, or was otherwise regulated by a State or local agency, there may be an administrative case filed against the babysitter and / or the facility that employed the babysitter.
Social Services Investigation and Proceeding. The State social services department may also be involved in a matter in which a babysitter caused harm to a child. If the babysitter was a family member or brought into the home by a family member, the State social services department may conduct an investigation to evaluate the care provided to the child, persons responsible including but not limited to the babysitter, and the safety and care status of the child. The State social services may require that the child be cared for in another home or foster home pending the investigation.
Civil Case. The family or guardian of the injured child can pursue a civil case against the babysitter, the babysitter’s employer or babysitter placement service, school, day care center, and / or others involved with the incident. There may also be a civil case against the others who may have allowed the babysitter to injure the child when there was an opportunity to stop or prevent the babysitter from harming the child.
In Amityville, New York, a recent tragedy was reported in which a child suffered injuries as a result of an assault from a babysitter. It was reported that the babysitter punched the child in the abdomen / stomach area when the child refused to take a nap. The babysitter was charged with second degree murder. You can read more about this story at Babysitter in New York Charged with Second Degree Murder. The death of this 4 year old was certainly a tragedy for the family, neighborhood, and the community.
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.