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What Does It Mean When a Lawsuit Is Filed? Does the Filing of a Lawsuit Guarantee a Financial Recovery in a Wrongful Death Case Involving a Child?

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network


Parents devote the greater part of their days and nights to the support, education, and welfare of their children. Many parents rely on day care centers to help supervise their children while the parents are at work. It is common to see children raised in a single parent home or by two working parents. When selecting a day care center, convenience and price are just two of many factors that should be considered by a parent. Other factors to consider include: the licensing of the facility, the background and training of the staff members, the type of facility, condition of the facility, staff to child ratio, activities provided, and other factors.

When a child is injured or dies as a result of the negligence of a day care center and its staff, a lawsuit can be filed against the day care center to seek damages / compensation for the injuries and / or wrongful death of the child. Often times, as a Child Injury Lawyer, I am asked the following questions:

*What Does It Mean When a Lawsuit Is Filed?

*Does the Filing of a Lawsuit Guarantee a Financial Recovery in a Wrongful Death Case Involving a Child?

Let’s address each of these questions.

What does it mean when a lawsuit is filed?
While the filing of many lawsuits make front page news, the fact is that it does not take much time, effort, or money to merely file a lawsuit. Typically, the lawsuit or Complaint as it is referred to in many jurisdiction must contain a plain recitation of the facts, applicable laws in place, and a request for damages or prayer for relief. Some lawsuits or Complaints do require some preliminary notices and thorough investigation like those involving medical malpractice and those involving sovereign entities. For most, the filing of a lawsuit may be a three page or more document that sets forth the basic facts of the case and the applicable law. The lawsuit or Complaint is merely the beginning of the litigation process rather than the bulk of it or the end of it. The lawsuit or Complaint formalizes the process of dealing with the other party and requires each side to abide by the local, State, and Federal (if applicable) laws in place pertaining to the cause of action alleged in the lawsuit / Complaint.

Does the filing of a lawsuit guarantee a financial recovery in a wrongful death case Involving a Child? The simple answer to this question is “No”. Typically, there is no guarantee that there will be a financial recovery or payment obtained in a case. While a parent may have a very strong legal case for the wrongful death of a child, the named Defendants may not have liability insurance, assets, or even a job. Furthermore, in many instances, the filing of a bankruptcy can stay the proceedings and can result in no financial recovery at all. For the most part, an attorney will not typically file a lawsuit if there is no reasonable hope or expectation that an equitable amount of money will be recovered on the case. In some instances, an attorney may not have a prediction one way or the other whether there will be a financial recovery on a case. When a wrongful death lawsuit is filed or any other case for that matter, it is important for the family to discuss with the attorney the available insurance and the collectibility (if known) of a potential Judgment or Verdict against the named Defendants.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it was reported that a child drowned over the summer while under the care and supervision of Tianna’s Terrific Tots Day Care Center. The owner left the children under the care and supervision of a person with a long criminal history. You can read more about this story at Philadelphia Pennsylvania Day Care Center Sued for Drowning Incident.

It is tragic that a child drowned while under the care of a day care center. The lawsuit was filed against three individuals. The filing of the lawsuit was reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer. In this case, there will be two basic issues to deal with:
1. Liability; 2. Damages; and 3. Collectibility.

Liability refers to what actions or inactions caused or contributed to the drowning death of the child. Was the incident foreseeable? Was the incident preventable? What was the level of supervision? Would better supervision have prevented the incident? What did the autopsy results show?

Damages refer to the losses sustained by the parents for the death of the child.

Collectibility refers to whether the Defendants will settle and actually pay funds to the family of the deceased child. Alternatively, collectibility refers to whether there are assets and / or insurance to collect from for a settlement or judgment.

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, Swimming and Water Park Injuries, Amusement and Theme Park Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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