Articles Tagged with day care center

Fractured-Arm-150x150In Florida, working parents rely on day care centers to provide supervision and education in a supportive environment. When there are issues or problems with a day care center, parents often question whether there is a case or claim to pursue on behalf of injured child. It should be noted that there may be a legal case or claim to pursue yet the practical considerations, costs, and risks may end up deterring some parents and attorneys from formally pursuing a case.  There are four essential elements of a day care center case as follows: 1 – Duty  2 – Breach of Duty  3 – Causation  4 – Damages
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, David Wolf is a partner in the law firm of Wood, Atter & Wolf.  As a child injury attorney and advocate, David Wolf handles cases throughout the State of Florida.  He is the author of 10 books including books that focus on child injury matters.  He is the author of the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know and the book titled – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. For over 26 years, David Wolf has represented injured children and their families in the aftermath of an accident or incident causing personal injuries. Read more about the books written by David Wolf at Personal Injury Books and Resources for Clients and Prospective Clients.
In evaluating the potential elements of a case, it is important to consider the particular facts, circumstances, evidence, and law on point.  It should be noted that all four elements must be established to pursue a case on a behalf of an injured child.  From a practical standpoint, the case or claim may not be pursued if the injuries were minimal and do not require much in the way of medical intervention and treatment.  Of course, each claim or case should be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.

4_ToysIn Florida and other States, day care centers should essentially be safe havens for children. Hard working parents deserve the comfort and peace of mind knowing that a child is safe and protected in a day care center. Unfortunately, far too many children are injured in the very places (day care centers / child care centers) where the children should be otherwise in a safe learning environment. In the aftermath of a child injury at a Florida day care center, a parent is faced with many questions, challenges, and stresses. It is at this time that a Florid Child Injury Lawyer can provide some help, guidance, advice, and, when necessary, legal representation. David Wolf has over 26 years of experience. From this first day on the job as an attorney to the present day, he has spent the duration of his entire legal career to the protection and enforcement of the legal rights of children. He is the author of a number of books including the book titled – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. This book has chapters on Indoor Facilities, Outdoor Facilities, Playgrounds, Staffing, Emergency Procedures, Incident Reports, and other topics. You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Injuries.

When evaluating a potential day care center case, there are four elements to establish:

1 – Duty;

4_ToysIn day care centers throughout Florida including Miami, the children enrolled in the child care facility should be provided with safe and nurturing environment.  It is important for child care providers and workers to have proper training, common sense, and, yes, patience to work with children.  If working with children causing a person stress to the point that a child is hit and struck by a day care center work, that particular worker should be removed from the job, go to jail, and ultimately find a new career.  Working with children is no easy task; however, employment in a child care facility or day care center is a voluntary choice by a day care worker.  As such, no-one is forcing the day care worker to take the position.  Unfortunately, far too many instances of abuse and neglect go unnoticed and unreported.  Parents are kept in the dark and the children in the day care center are often victims without a voice and without the power to stop their abusers.  However, in many other instances, the day care center worker is caught in the act by another co-worker, management, parents, or other children who take that bold step to report the incident and have the conduct addressed. It is clear that day care center workers should use their efforts and abilities to act in the best interest of the children.  It is well known that the care and supervision of a children are not easy tasks; nevertheless, in Florida day care centers, corporal punishment is prohibited.  There is no excuse or defense to the hitting, torturing, and harming of a child enrolled in a day care center by a the very people responsible for caring for the child.

It was reported by various media outlets that a day care center through a private charter school in Miami Beach was the site of the corporal punishment / abuse of children under the care of the child care center.  In particular, a video surveillance camera revealed that a child care worker documented the hitting, twisting of arms, and other abuse of children who were in the 2 to 3 year old age group.  When the abuse originally came to light, no immediate arrests were made.  Then, after a week or so of further investigation by social service and local law enforcement, the day care center worker – Clara Luz Quintero-Gonzalez – was arrested.  For more information regarding these incidents, see Miami, Florida Day Care Center Worker Arrested for Hitting Children Under her Care at the Lincoln Marti Day Care Center.

It should be noted that the criminal prosecution of a day care center worker is not a prerequisite or requirement for a parent to bring a civil action or claim on behalf of a child who was injured or harmed by a day care center provider.  Certainly, it is quite compelling when a day care center worker is arrested following an allegation of abuse or neglect.  Furthermore, having video surveillance that actually documents the alleged abuse or neglect can be used as evidence in the potential criminal case or civil case of abuse / neglect in a day care center.  If there is believed to probable cause that a crime was committed, an arrest can and should be made. The further prosecution of the defendant will depend on the evidence gathered and potential defenses (if any) that may be raised in response to the allegations.  The criminal allegations must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  For a civil case, the standard of proof is by the preponderance of the evidence with is lesser standard than for a criminal case.

Stroller - Child Safety - Personal Injury
During the summer and other months in warm weather States, children are at risk for heat related illnesses including by not limited to hyperthermia.  It is important that summer camps, schools, day care centers, and other child care providers understand that children respond and handle the heat much differently than adults.  Furthermore, a child does not necessary verbalize or even recognize himself or herself when there is a risk of serious complications from the heat. This is especially true for infants, toddlers, and special needs children who are not communicative.   According to Dr.  Ross Tobleman, an emergency medical director based in Texas, “Little children can certainly get into trouble very quickly without having us recognize the signs that they’re getting trouble.”  This is a reference to heat and medical complications.   It should be noted that the metabolism and body of a child works much differently than that of an adult.  You can read more about this topic at Heat Related Illnesses Harder to Detect in Children.

In this article, it is interesting to note that strollers and other confined spaces can present a real risk of danger, medical complication, and even death to children in the heat of summer and other months.   Since children do not sweat or control body temperature the same as an adult, a glance at a child may lead a child care provider to believe that all is well because the child is not sweating profusely or appear to be that hot or overexposed to the heat.  The truth is that child care provides, on many occasions, do not and cannot see that a child is truly a risk and approaching a critical overexposure to the heat.   Some times, it is only the child’s outward signs of trauma, arrest, or other significant issues that finally alerts the child care provider that there is a problem.

In Florida, child care providers, summer camps, day care centers, schools and other entities have a duty to keep a child out of harm’s way.  One known risk is the Florida heat.  Make sure that a child – especially infants and toddlers – are provided with proper ventilation when in confined spaces like a stroller. Furthermore, as we have seen far too many times, a child should not be left unattended on a school bus or school van without air conditioning.   Let’s make sure that this point is clear.   A child needs to be supervised at all times and should never be left on a bus or van alone – air conditioned or without air conditioning.

Kids Wooden Blocks Spelling Mom And Dad As Symbol for Parenthood
In the State of Florida, corporal punishment is prohibited in day care centers.  There are strong public policy and safety reasons for having such a law in place.  It does not matter that the teacher of the day care center was subjected to corporal punishment as part of his or her upbringing.  Furthermore, a parent cannot and should consent to the imposition of corporal punishment at a day care center since it is against the law.   Toddlers and small children should learn by instruction and restrictions that DO NOT involve physical harm, pinching, punching, withholding of food, false imprisonment, or other acts that are neglectful and / or malicious in manner.   Because of this, it is important that Florida day care centers are staffed with trained and caring individuals who have the personality, patience, and maturity to deal with the stresses and demands of the job.  Certainly, it is challenging to be a day care center worker or child care provider.   When the stress intensifies, the day care worker / child care worker should step back and assess or reassess his or her current actions, his or next actions, and the rest of the day.

In Quincy, Florida, it was reported that a day care center worker at All My Children Learning Center is facing criminal charges of battery and cruelty to a child.  It was reported that a day care center teacher pinched a 4 year old child under her care to the point that the child was bruised and needed medical attention.
There may be a number of legal cases that result from corporal punishment cases or incidents including the following:

Kids Wooden Blocks Spelling Mom And Dad As Symbol for Parenthood
Day care centers have a duty to provide supervision to the children enrolled in the program.   As part of this supervision, child care providers should make sure that all exits and areas are secure and that no children wander away from the facility. It is well known that children are curious and lack good safety awareness.  As such, at times, a child will wander away from the facility.   This, in turn, may lead to serious personal injuries or even the death of the child.  This raises the issue as to whether the day care center is liable when a child wanders away from the facility.   From a practical standpoint, it may be difficult to pursue a civil case or claim when there was no physical harm caused to the child during the wandering away incident or event.

For instance, let’s say that a child wanders away and is just about to cross the street.  The child is outside of the facility for about 5 minutes and is found by a police officer who happened to be in the area.  The child is promptly returned to the day care center.  Certainly, the child could have been seriously harmed in the busy traffic just outside of this day care center. Furthermore, the child would have been seriously injured but for the presence of the attentive police officer.  However, based on the facts as presented, the child was unharmed and promptly returned to the facility.   The day care center was certainly negligent and may be fined or even closed for such conduct; however, there was no physical harm caused to the child. 
In some States, a physical injury would be required to pursue a civil case or claim for personal injuries or harm to a child. In other States, not such proof would be required; however, in each instance, it would be a difficult case to pursue from a damage / value perspective. If the facts are changed, the case is much different. 

Florida Day Care Center Book.001In Florida day care centers as well as day care centers throughout the nation, there is a common risk present no matter the size or type of day care centers.   This is the risk of choking on small objects.   It is well known that children are curious. Furthermore, children have poor safety awareness especially when it comes to putting objects in the mouth like toy parts, household items, and coins.  Furthermore, some foods are notoriously dangerous to toddlers and infants like hot dogs, grapes, hard vegetables and fruits, and other items.  Because of the known risks of chocking, day care centers have a duty and responsibility to keep all hazardous items away from the reach of children.   It is acceptable for a day care center to keep change / coins not he premises but it is quite another thing if the coins are within the reach of children.  It is certainly quite worse even if the children (toddlers and infants) are given coins or other small objects to play with.   One coin or small hard object can lead to a choking incident which, in turn, can cause serious personal injuries, brain injuries, and even death.
Let’s take a look at another example.  A 2 year old is playing with legos in the day care center. The lego set is recommended for children 4 and older.   There are a number of small pieces that the child has access to in the lego box.   The child puts one of the small pieces in his mouth and chokes on the object.  Fire rescue is called and the child is rushed to the hospital.  The child is in ICU for 10 days.  The child ultimately recovered from the incident but only have 6 months of treatment and care.   The whole incident and resulting damages and harm could have been avoided with better supervision and with the removal of the dangerous items from the reach of this 2 year old child. 
The book – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents – has sections on Supervision, Incident Reports, Emergency Procedures, Indoor Facilities, Outdoor Facilities, and other topics. You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Injuries.  

Play Time Written In Multicolored Plastic Kids Letters

Play Time at Day Care Centers, Schools, and Summer Camp

At most playgrounds, it is common to see a slide.  Children often enjoy playing on playgrounds and especially the joy and thrill of climbing up a slide and then sliding down.  If the slide is age appropriate and used correctly, most injuries from playground slides are avoided.   This also assumes that there is sufficient and reasonable supervision in place for all of the children on the playground including but not limited to the slide area – ladder, levels, slide, and landing.  Unfortunately, for some children, the playground slide is the location of a serious personal injury.   When a child is injured on a playground, the day care center, summer camp, property owner, school, or city / county entity may be liable for the resulting injuries and damages.   The liability or responsibility will depend on the ability to prove the four essential elements of a civil case or claim:

1. Duty;

vibrant swimming pool side with ladder

Swimming Safety Measures

During the summer months in Florida and other States, children enjoy the free time and water related activities like swimming in the pool of summer camp, school, day care center, community center, friend, or neighbor.  Splashing around and playing with friends to beat the summer heat can be great fun.  Unfortunately for some children and families, these very same swimming pools can be the site of the serious personal injury or death of a child due to a drowning incident.  Approximately 1000 children per year the United States drown.  Another alarming statistic is that over 5000 children suffer personal injuries each year as a result of near drowning related incidents.  While drowning does not discriminate by age or anything else, it is clear that it is the youngest children in the community who are at greatest risks.  Drowning is reported as the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old.  Many drowning related incidents and near drowning related incidents can be avoided through better and more attentive adult supervision during swim time.  Furthermore, any time that a child is near a body of water whether it is a swimming pool, wading pool, lake, river, ocean, water park, etc . . . – measures should be taken to supervise children so that they do not wander off and go play in the water or aquatic related area without proper adult supervision and related safety measures.

For summer camps, day care centers, schools, and other child care providers, written rules and policies should be posted, distributed, and followed for all child care personnel.  There should be trained lifeguards in place.  In addition, personnel should be trained in CPR and other safety measures.  Whether swimming activities are taking place at a school, day care center, camp, or even a neighbor’s house, here are some safety measures that should always be kept in mind:

Van - the Letter VIn the State of Florida, children enrolled in day care centers are often transported to and from the day care center by transporation provided by the day care center or an indepedent school transportation company.  Often, day care center vans are used to transport the children.  Passenger vans – especially the longer and larger vans – at times roll over when involved in automobile accidents in the State of Florida as well as the rest of the United States.  These rollover accidents can and do result in serious personal injuries to the children and as well as the adult occupants of the van.  When a child is injured in a day care center van rollover accident, it is important that the child is properly assessment and evaluated for musculoskeletal injuries, head injuries, internal injuries, and other complications that result from the crash.  The scene at day care center van rollover accidents can be quite disturbing especially when a person sees a day care center van flipped over and resting on the roof of the van.  Several questions or issues come to mind in the wake of a day care center van rollover accident:

How many children were in the van?

What are the manufacturer guidelines for the van as to seating?  seatbelts? other safety features?