Is a Daycare Liable for Injuries to a Child?

Entrusting a strange with the care of their child is undoubtedly difficult for most parents.  Accidents do happen and, understandably, a child may sustain occasional minor injuries, such as scraped knees or bruised elbows from tripping while running or falling from the monkey bars. But what happens when a serious injury occurs?

If the injury was caused by negligent action on the part of the childcare provider, the child and their family may be entitled to meaningful compensation. Every case is different, so it is important to speak with a qualified attorney about your potential claims and the types of damages that may apply.  

Can I Sue If My Child Gets Hurt at Daycare?

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the daycare. In many cases, the first step will be to file a claim against their insurance. California law requires Family Child Care providers to carry liability insurance or bond in the amount of $300,000 annually or to maintain a statement signed by the child’s guardian acknowledging they are aware of the facility’s lack of insurance.

This signed statement, however, does not automatically prevent the guardian from taking legal action against the daycare. An experienced attorney can help you determine the legal remedies available to you. 

When Is a Daycare Liable for Injuries to a Child?

If reasonable steps were not taken by the daycare provider to prevent your child’s injuries, you may be able to hold them liable for what happened. You must establish that the daycare was A) negligent in their action or inaction and B) that their negligence led to the injury. Below is a breakdown of the legal elements of negligence that will need to be demonstrated in order to have a successful claim:. 

The Daycare Owed a Duty of Care to the Child

No one can be reasonably expected to protect a child from every bruise or scrape. However, Ddaycare providers are expected to protect children from serious injuries and are obligated to adhere to a reasonable standard of care. 

The Daycare or Staff Breached Their Duty

The duty of care was breached by the daycare or a staff member’s action or inaction. For example, the child was permitted to play in the kitchen area unsupervised and received severe burns from touching a hot object. 

The Breach Was the Proximate Cause of the Injury

Proximate cause means that but for the daycare’s breach of its duty, the accident would not have happened. In the above situation, you would need to show that the hot object was the reason for the burns and if the child had been properly supervised, they would not have had access to it. 

Actual Damage Was Sustained As a Result of the Injuries

Actual damages (or compensatory damages) includes things like medical bills associated with treatment of the injury, loss of income while caring for the child, and the child’s pain and suffering. 

What Should I Do If My Child Is Injured at Daycare?

Every situation is different, but these are examples of possible steps to take if your child sustains a serious injury while at daycare.: 

Seek Medical Care

If there is any question as to whether your child should receive medical attention, it is best to err on the side of caution. The daycare facility should take immediate precautions and call 911 if an injury appears serious. Not only is this best for your child, but having a record of the injury can also be beneficial to your case. 

Photograph the Injuries

The more documentation you have, the better. This includes images of your child’s injury which can help demonstrate the severity of what they have endured. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, it may also be a good idea to photograph where the accident took place. For example, if they fell off poorly maintained play equipment, it would be helpful to have a photo of the equipment. 

Request Camera Footage

Many daycare facilities have cameras for security and for transparency. If applicable, you may request to see the footage to better understand what happened to your child. The facility is not required to let you see the footage without legal interference, but they may grant your request. 

Request an Incident Report

Most businesses are required to file an internal incident report anytime something serious or out of the ordinary occurs. A child sustaining a serious injury is grounds for an incident report detailing how the accident occurred. 

Consult with a Daycare Negligence Attorney

It is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to understand your potential claims and the types of damages that may apply to your circumstances.

California Daycare Regulations

To receive and maintain licensure, a daycare in California, must adhere to several regulations governing safety standards. Daycares that fail to comply with these regulations may be held additionally liable for injuries that occur. Such regulations include: 

  • To maintain adequate child supervision, a California daycare facility must have at least one staff member on hand for every four children between the ages of 6 weeks and 18 months. 
  • Daycares must have an accessible first aid kit that has the necessary materials to enable staff members to provide basic first aid to a child, should an emergency occur. 
  • Any hazardous materials at the childcare facility must be stored in a location that is not accessible to children. 
  • Care providers must be properly certified and maintain current certification for pediatric first aid. 
  • The facility must have at least 75 square feet per child of outdoor activity space based on the total licensed capacity. This allows enough room for play without crowding.
  • Rooms occupied by children at the daycare must maintain a temperature between 68 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In addition to these regulations, daycare facilities must also take into account the situation of the individual child. For example, if a child has a peanut allergy, the care providers must take care to ensure they do not consume any foods containing peanuts. 

Contact a Lawyer for Daycare Negligence

As the guardian of a child, nothing is more important than ensuring their safety and well-being. At Boucher LLP, every single claim is important to us. Not only do we understand the complex California legal system and applicable regulations, but we are committed to providing zealous legal representation and helping you and your family receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule your case consultation