North Carolina requires visits and inspections of its child care facilities, but regular inspections do not always guarantee a safe facility. A daycare in a neighboring state was forced to close earlier this month after a bookshelf fell on top of a little boy and broke his neck. The daycare had passed a surprise inspection as recently as February, but was previously cited for having too many infants and not enough day care personnel in January of 2012.
North Carolina law requires child care facilities to provide indoor area equipment and furnishings that are child size, sturdy, safe, and in good repair. North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services provides parents with an Environment Rating Scale that measures the quality of care provided at child care facilities. Evaluators assess a range of factors like hand-washing at regular intervals and the safety of the classroom area. Adequate supervision is also required, and North Carolina has determined the appropriate ratios of care-givers to children based on their age.
These statutory requirements and agency guidelines reflect the duty the state places upon day care providers to ensure a safe environment while watching other people’s children. When a day care provider fails in their duty to provide a safe environment, and the failure results in an injury or death, they are responsible for the damages that arise from the injury or death. Damages can include past, present, and future medical expenses, emotional distress, or lost wages. To obtain this needed compensation, the injured child and family may look to North Carolina’s guidelines and regulations for daycares as proof of the specific expectations placed upon facilities.
However, statutory requirements and guidelines for safety standards have previously been used by defendants to shield themselves from liability. In Davis v. Cumberland County Bd. of Education, 720 S.E.2d 418 (2011), the appellate court affirmed a lower court’s ruling in favor of the school board. The injured plaintiff was a six-year old boy who fell through wet bleachers and fractured his skull, causing permanent damage to his head. The school board was sued by the injured boy who alleged that they failed in their duty to keep the bleachers reasonably safe. The school board provided an affidavit from an engineer that affirmed the bleacher seatboards and floorboards met the Building Code requirements at the date of installation and modification. The courts looked at whether the school board, by meeting these requirements, exercised care that any reasonable school board would have exercised. The appellate court assessed that the school board’s compliance with the Building Code was evidence of due care, although not conclusive of the issue. Ultimately, the appellate court agreed that the school board exercised reasonable care and prevented the injured boy from pursuing his case against the school board.
The experienced North Carolina day care injury attorneys at Auger & Auger have worked tirelessly for their clients so they receive maximum compensation for injuries obtained in child care. They have analyzed all daycare statutory requirements and guidelines to hold negligent facilities accountable for the harm caused to children. If you would like to speak with one of the seasoned litigators, call the office for a free consultation at 888-487-0835.
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