Columbia Child Care Accident Lawyer
As a family-owned and operated law firm, Auger & Auger believes that the childcare industry should be held to the highest standards possible. When you contact our Columbia childcare accident lawyer following an incident, we will take immediate steps to ensure that your child is not subjected to further harm or negligence.
Discovering that your child has been injured or harmed by neglect while in paid childcare is devastating and overwhelming. Unfortunately, these accidents happen frequently, and inadequate supervision is often a contributing factor. Both you and your child are entitled to compensation for injuries sustained through the negligence or incompetent behavior of another.
Supervision Isn’t Child’s Play
Every parent knows that children view the world around them with a complete lack of fear. They climb, they crawl, and they explore their surroundings with abandon. Because they often act without thinking, it’s up to care providers to do the thinking for them. Taking your eyes off a child for just a few seconds can be a life-altering mistake. Adequate supervision must be provided at all times.
Our Auger & Auger Columbia childcare accident lawyer knows that some of the most prevalent causes of daycare injuries are falls from playground equipment, accidents in bathrooms, slamming doors and drawers, and the ingestion of toxic substances. Children move quickly and not all accidents can be foreseen — but appropriate supervision goes a long way in preventing them.
According to the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC), active supervision can reduce injuries in daycares. The organization provides tips for childcare providers who want to implement active supervision in their centers or home. Parents who read this information can formulate better questions when interviewing childcare providers.
The South Carolina Laws Defining Childcare Practices
Though laws for the childcare industry in South Carolina do not specifically speak to supervision, Section 63-13-180 states that the operation, maintenance, and standards for childcare homes must be designed to promote safety. As you read this section, it’s clear that the welfare of children is something that is taken very seriously in the eyes of the law.
As a parent, there are sections of the Childcare Provider Laws that are of particular interest:
- Section 63-13-39 Outlines the requirements to be a caregiver to children in the state.
- Section 63-13-80 Discusses provisions for licensing, renewals, and inspections.
- Section 63-13-110 At least one caregiver on duty must be certified in first aid and child-infant CPR.
What Situations May Result from Negligence in a Daycare Accident?
It only takes a second for an accident to injure a child. But was it a simple accident that couldn’t have been prevented, or was the childcare facility negligent? We recommend speaking to a Columbia childcare accident lawyer rather than trying to figure it out yourself. Sometimes parents assume a child’s injuries are just “kids being kids” when the facility may have been negligent – and could be again.
In a childcare accident claim, as with other personal injury cases, you need to establish that the facility had a duty of care to your child, that this duty was breached, and that this breach caused their injuries. Generally, it is not difficult to prove that a daycare has a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for the children in their care. Whether or not they did that in the case of a child’s injury is usually a pivotal question. If the daycare failed to take reasonable steps to prevent injuries to kids in the facility, and your child was injured as a result, they may have been negligent. If so, you deserve compensation for your child’s medical bills and other damages.
Here are some common situations that lead to preventable injuries in childcare settings:
- Lack of supervision. If there aren’t enough trained adults for the number of children in a facility or a specific group in the facility, then kids could be at increased risk. After all, one person can’t be everywhere at once, and young children can get into trouble quickly. Even the most attentive and dedicated worker can’t keep an eye on an excessive number of children simultaneously. For this reason, South Carolina has specific requirements for how many adults should be present based on the number of children in care and the kids’ ages (younger children require more supervision). If your child was hurt at their childcare facility, you might ask which instructors were present to understand if they were understaffed.
- Not taking care of a child’s diet or medication needs. If your child has allergies or food sensitivities, you’ve probably carefully explained their needs to the staff at your childcare facility. You expect this information to be shared with everyone who will care for and feed your child. But if this doesn’t happen, the child could suffer an allergic reaction or other health problems. Similarly, if the staff forgets to give a child medication or gives an incorrect dose, this could also be harmful.
- Poor employee screening. Any facility that works with kids should have a thorough screening process, including a criminal background check and a thorough investigation into previous work history and references. If the daycare doesn’t take these steps and a worker causes harm to your child, they may have been negligent.
- Unsafe situations on the premises. This encompasses a wide variety of situations. As a parent, you probably recall going to a lot of trouble to “babyproof” your home before welcoming your child. At a busy daycare facility, this process must be even more intense and ongoing to ensure items aren’t left in a dangerous place or position. For example, scissors or other objects left near the edge of a desk can easily fall off and hurt a curious child who reaches for them. Electrical outlets should be covered, cleaning chemicals and other potentially toxic substances kept out of reach of children, and playground equipment regularly inspected for wear or potentially hazardous situations. If the daycare uses vehicles to transport the kids, car seats and other safety equipment should be examined regularly and checked for expiration dates. Failing to do any of these things can cause a child to be injured.
Common Accidents in Childcare Facilities
Injuries at daycare may happen in a wide variety of ways, but here are some of the more common types of accidents we see:
- Toy or playground equipment accidents. When toys or equipment get older or worn, they should be thrown out, but if this doesn’t happen, they could be harmful. Playground installations should be inspected regularly to ensure they haven’t become rusty or unstable. Someone in management should keep track of recalls for kids’ toys and appliances and check to ensure the center doesn’t use anything on the latest list. Additionally, sometimes kids can break toys, and the pieces may be jagged and unsafe. If the daycare fails to deal with any of these hazards, it could lead to a child getting hurt.
- Food or eating accidents. Often these involve exposure to an allergen the parents have specifically advised the facility about. However, choking is another concern for any child. This is more likely if the facility fails to cut food into small enough pieces for very young children. It’s also important that the facility always has someone on hand who knows first aid, including how to respond to choking in children.
- Bullying, fights, or other incidents between children. This usually falls under “lack of supervision.” Little kids don’t always know right from wrong yet and may get into arguments over minor things, like who gets to play with a toy. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one child will hit another – sometimes, kids get into a “tug of war” situation, and one simply falls down and gets hurt. If the altercation turns physical, a childcare worker should be paying attention and able to step in. When this doesn’t happen, it often means that the facility was negligent in not having enough supervision.
- Falls. These may happen on the playground and, in this case, are also usually due to poor supervision. But they may also occur because the daycare workers failed to clean up a spilled drink or warn kids not to run in the hallway. Other potential causes include tripping hazards – toys or other objects left lying around, uneven floor surfaces, holes or tears in carpets, etc.
- Burns. These most frequently happen because a bottle warmer or other heated appliance is left unattended, and a small child gets too close, sometimes pulling the warmer down on top of them.
Abuse in Childcare Facilities
Most injuries in daycare are accidents, even those resulting from negligence on the facility’s part. Although less common than accidental injuries, we see some cases where children were intentionally abused by those tasked with caring for and keeping them safe. Frequently, this is the result of the facility failing to properly screen workers or failing to provide supervision and surveillance of their employees. When choosing a daycare facility, consider asking these questions to determine how dedicated the center is to keeping kids safe:
- Are there live cameras so I can check in on my child throughout the day? Is this footage recorded so I can view it later?
- Can I drop by to check on my child at any time?
- What screening process do you use for your employees?
- What steps do you take when a child is hurt at your facility? How do you investigate accidents in which a child is hurt?
Once your child is in care, use the tools available to check on your child as much as time allows. Facilities with online recordings are preferable because you can look at the video later if you’re too busy during your workday. In particular, you should always check the footage if you notice your child has any unusual bruises or marks on their skin they didn’t have before you dropped them off for the day.
If your child is old enough to talk, maintain good communication with them. Always ask what they did at daycare when you pick them up each day. Pay attention to how they act when dropped off and try to find out what’s wrong if they suddenly seem apprehensive or reluctant to go to the facility. Changes in mood or personality, regression, sudden difficulties with sleeping, or nightmares may also be signs of something wrong.
If your child suffers any kind of injury at daycare, ask for an accident report and any available video. If the staff seems evasive or claims there is no video available, don’t hesitate to speak with a Columbia childcare accident lawyer to learn your options. In some situations, this may be a matter for the police, as one South Carolina mother learned in April of 2022 after her child suffered a broken leg at daycare. The facility claimed the child got hurt on a crib railing but also said their cameras were “malfunctioning.” Suspicious of this story, the mother contacted local law enforcement. Authorities investigated and eventually recovered video of a worker abusing the child and causing the broken leg. The worker has since been arrested.
Our Family Is Here for Yours
No family wants to live through the nightmare of having one of their smallest members injured or suffer a fatality while in someone else’s care. A provider may be considered negligent when they fail to provide the necessary amount of supervision for your injured child. Our Columbia childcare accident lawyer will investigate the accident and vigorously defend your child’s rights.
Our legal team has over four decades of combined experience, and we believe everyone has a right to health and safety. Your child deserves a passionate advocate from Auger & Auger, and we make sure our services are affordable for everyone by offering a zero-fee guarantee; i.e. you won’t pay unless we win your case.
Call (803) 470-5298 today for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!