What are Choking Hazards at Day Care Centers?  Legal Rights of Injured Child and Parents.

Day-Care-Center-Toy-Blocks-150x150A day care center should be a safe haven for children. It is important that the day care center management and workers are mindful of safety measures for the children enrolled in the program.  Infants and toddlers are at risk for choking from every day items at a day care center. It is well known or should be well known to the day care center workers that small children lack safety awareness.  In particular, a child will put an object in his or her mouth without thinking or understanding the consequences of such a simple act.  Whether it is a coin, button, small toy piece, bottle cap, or other item, a moment of inattention on the part of a day care center worker can lead to significant personal injuries and even the death of a child. 
 
On the checklist for any size day care center, the staff should monitor all areas accessible by the children as to choking hazards. Any and all choking hazards should be kept out of the reach of the children. In addition, there should be constant monitoring if by chance a child some how – some way manages to swallow a small object that can block the airway or cause internal damages / injuries. 
 
It was recently reported that a 10 month old child enrolled in a North Carolina day care center choked on a piece of a pine cone. The incident was reported to take place at or near the A Hug A Day Daycare Center located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  See 10 Month Old Dies at North Carolina Day Care Center Atter Choking on a Pine Cone.
As referenced in the above news report, another incident was reported at a different day care center regarding a 9 month old who choked to death on a balloon.  Yes, balloons are fun and festive; however, not in the hands or within the reach of an infant or toddler who can choke on a balloon.
When a child suffers an injury at a day care center, a parent can pursue a legal cause of action for the injuries sustained by the child. If a child dies as the result of negligence or carelessness on behalf of a day care center, a wrongful death case can be pursued on behalf of the parent.  For day care center cases, there are essentially four elements to establish or prove:
1.  Duty;
2.  Breach of Duty;
3.  Causation; and
4.  Damages
Let’s take an example.  Let’s say that a 1 year old child is enrolled at a day care center.  The staff members allowed some bottle caps to remain on the floor within cleaning them up.  The bottle caps were on the floor for one hour before the 1 year old began playing with the bottle cap.  Within 15 minutes or so, the child put the bottle cap in his mouth and then choked to death. This is certainly a tragic and preventable incident.  Let’s now take a look at the elements.  There was a duty to maintain a reasonably safe environment. The day care center breached the duty by allowing bottle caps to remain on the floor within the reach of the child.  This negligence in turn led to the child putting the bottle cap in his mouth.  The damages that resulted from the negligence were in the form of the death of the child.
David Wolf is a child injury attorney and the author of 12 books that focus on injury and safety issues. He is the author of the book – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents.  You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Book.