Daycare has taken an abrupt turn over the past few decades, from a few licensed facilities in commercial districts to childcare homes spread through neighborhoods proximate to school zones. Increasing childcare options may benefit many parents, but your child’s safety is always the primary concern. As a parent, you do your best to choose a safe and healthy environment for your child, but unfortunately, sometimes children are injured while at daycare.
The Charleston childcare accident lawyer team at Auger & Auger is dedicated to providing a thorough investigation into any incident where your child has been neglected or harmed. We will pursue a civil court case on your behalf so that you may receive compensation for your child’s injury, medical treatment charges (past, present, and future), therapy, and pain and suffering.
We hear news stories about negligence, abuse, or injuries in childcare facilities – and the fairly rapid shutdowns that follow. But not much is said about consequences, meeting reopening requirements, and when it is safe to return. Childcare homes are hardly ever mentioned in the media, and the public seems unaware that the regulations are the same as the institutions we have relied on for so long.
You have a right to know the statutes in South Carolina code law for childcare homes and facilities and what to expect.
The purpose of Chapter 13 of Title 63 of the South Carolina code law is to establish minimum regulations for the care and protection of children placed in childcare facilities, to ensure the laws are maintained, and to approve the administration and enforcement necessary to regulate these conditions. You can see the full extent of the regulations at these links.
Under this section (63:13-620), those who regularly care for up to 6 children of more than one unrelated family in their home must register with the Department of Social Services (DSS), which must be annually renewed. The home must have a working phone number and pass fire, sanitation, and childcare licensing inspections to qualify. The operator must have First Aid and CPR certification, and all family members 15+ years old and any other caregivers must pass state and federal fingerprint checks. Additionally, three letters of reference plus zoning board approval are required.
In any personal injury case, it’s necessary to show the other party had a duty of care to behave responsibly and avoid situations that put others at risk. In a car accident case, you might argue that the other driver had a duty to drive carefully and avoid reckless behavior that could cause an accident, like driving drunk or running a red light. In the case of a daycare center injury, you would need to show that the childcare center had a duty to prevent a foreseeable injury to the child. There are two important questions you and your attorney will need to answer:
In other words, what situation allowed your child to be injured? For example, a child might get hurt if the daycare worker in charge was distracted or not paying attention. This may not be the worker’s fault – sometimes, the issue is a lack of adequate staffing at the facility. If one person is left in charge of too many small children, they won’t be able to keep an eye on all of them no matter how hard they try. South Carolina has specific staff-to-child ratios that childcare centers must follow, based on the age of the children involved. If the daycare facility failed to follow these guidelines and did not have enough staff for the number of kids in their care when the accident occurred, negligent supervision may be the cause of injury in your case.
However, there are many other potential causes of injury in daycare:
Sometimes accidents just happen, and there is no way a reasonable person could see them coming. However, in many childcare facility cases, it is possible to foresee that a child might be injured in a specific situation. The facility might have been negligent if this was the case in your child’s injury.
Proving that an accident was “foreseeable” often involves taking testimony from the daycare employees who were present the day of your child’s accident, going over any video footage of the incident, and possibly talking to a medical expert about how the type of injury your child had usually occurs.
Unfortunately, there are many ways for small children to get hurt, especially in a busy place like a daycare center, making it even more important for the facility to practice vigilance. Here are some common injuries we see in these cases:
So far we’ve talked about accidents that happen at daycare. No one wants to think that a childcare worker will intentionally hurt their child, and South Carolina DSS has rules about running background checks on childcare employees to reduce this risk. But in some situations, abuse or neglect may happen anyway. Here are some steps you can take to help protect your child:
This question comes up a lot. Often the daycare will ask you to sign a waiver for various things, including permission to take your child to a hospital in an emergency if they can’t reach you. Many waivers will also include a section saying something to the effect that you understand the daycare isn’t liable if your child is injured there. In most cases, the court will not enforce these “liability waivers,” releasing the facility of responsibility for a potential incident that hadn’t happened yet when it was signed. If you have concerns about the childcare contract you signed, you can ask your attorney to look at it, but it shouldn’t interfere with your ability to file a claim for compensation on behalf of your child. Often the daycare center includes these clauses in the hopes that parents will believe they can’t sue.
Once you have read through these pertinent areas of law regulating a childcare home or facility – and the eligibility requirements of their caregivers – it becomes quite clear how closely this service is governed in our state. It is, however, up to the parents to request proof of these certifications and report any observations of unseemly conduct or abuse.
As a family firm, Auger & Auger is especially committed to ensuring our community’s children are not harmed by unlicensed or unqualified facilities where you have placed your loved ones. If your child has been harmed or mistreated during their hours under a caregiver’s watch, we want to know about it. Please contact us at your very first opportunity, and receive a free consultation and a Zero-Fee Guarantee; i.e. you pay nothing until we settle your case.
Call (843) 751-4690 today for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!