daycare negligenceIn the United States, it’s estimated that nearly 25% of children under the age of five receive child care from someone who is not a parent. Thus, the importance of finding a safe, secure daycare center, nursery, preschool, or in-home care is paramount for parents who have young children.

Most parents are able to locate suitable care for their kids where they can socialize, receive educational instruction, and play in a structured but loving environment. However, sometimes finding a protected and secure place for your child can be challenging. Because daycare facilities can be understaffed and lack qualified providers, it’s possible for there to be an absence of adequate supervision which can lead to an increased risk of injury to the children.

West Virginia Daycare Requirements

Caregivers and workers in a West Virginia daycare must meet a few qualifications. They include the following: 

  • They must be 18 years old.
  • They must have a high school education or certified equivalent.
  • They must be able to read and write.

Childcare providers in a center-based care facility must not exceed certain provider-to-child ratios. These ratios are as follows:

  • One adult for every four children if the children are younger than two.
  • One adult for every eight children for children aged two or three.
  • One adult for every ten children for children aged three or four.
  • One adult for every 12 children if the children are four or five years old.
  • One adult for every 15 children for five- and six-year-olds.
  • One adult for every 16 school-aged children.

If the child will be in a family or in-home care situation, the provider ratio is 1:6 for children of all ages. This includes any children who live in the home and are six or under. Additionally, no more than two children under the age of 24 months are allowed at any time. These ratios are critical to ensure a safe and secure experience for the child.

Why Injuries Happen

Although there are specific requirements that daycare providers must meet, some facilities disregard them. These facilities ignore the required provider-to-child ratios because they’re understaffed and see a high turnover rate due to low pay and stressful working conditions.

When daycare facilities violate or disregard the provider-to-child ratio requirements and there are not enough skilled employees, there’s a greater chance that your child will be injured. Workers who oversee children must carry out tasks that require a serious level of focus, energy, and attentiveness. If an employee is tired, distracted, or overworked, it’s possible for them to overlook critical tasks that keep a child safe. If this happens and your child is injured, you have the right to take legal action against the daycare center for negligence. Here are a few examples of how understaffing can put children at risk:

  • Defective and/or broken toys go unseen or are overlooked.
  • Children can fall from playground equipment because they are not adequately supervised.
  • Children open unlocked cabinets or cupboards that may contain poisons, bleach, or other toxic chemicals.
  • Children are more susceptible to flu, colds, and other diseases because sanitation standards are relaxed.
  • Children wander away from the daycare facility because the staff hasn’t properly secured the latches and locks.

Common Types of Injuries

When children are active and engaged in play with others, it’s common for there to be simple injuries. It’s typical for kids to suffer bumps and bruises, scrapes, and even minor cuts. But when there is worker negligence, the injuries can be much more serious, including:

  • Unintentional poisoning
  • Drowning or near-drowning
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a fall
  • Burns
  • Choking or suffocation
  • Dental injuries
  • Broken and dislocated bones

There are two primary ways children typically suffer serious injuries at a daycare facility:

  • On the playground. The most common daycare injuries usually happen on the playground. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 200,000 children under the age of 14 are taken to emergency rooms for playground-related injuries each year, with more than 20,000 treated for TBIs.
  • Loose or falling objects. A child’s curiosity can get them in trouble at daycare. Children are often brought to emergency rooms after they’ve been struck by objects that have fallen from bookcases, shelves, countertops, or desks. It could be a television, computer, aquarium, or bottle warmer that hits them, and often, the piece of furniture itself falls on them as well.

Proving Negligence at a Daycare Center

If your child’s daycare fails to comply with all the rules and regulations required by the State of West Virginia, it’s possible for you to prove negligence on the part of the facility and the people who work there. To establish negligence, you must prove the following:

  • Duty of care. Caregivers at a daycare facility or who provide in-home care have a duty to supervise and care for the children in their ward in a way that is reasonably expected to ensure the prevention of foreseeable harm. There are two primary considerations when determining this duty as it relates to the injury: how the injury happened and if the harm was foreseeable.
  • Breach of duty. You must show that the facility and/or caregivers breached their duty of care to your child. To do this, you must prove that the daycare center, operating as other normal daycare centers operate, could have or should have prevented the injury because it was foreseeable. A determination is made as to whether the daycare center and caregivers failed to exercise a duty of care.
  • Causation. If the daycare facility or its caregivers breached their duty of care, you must next show causation. This shows that the behavior actually caused the child’s injury. So, you must prove that the injury was caused by the facility in some way or by the conduct of the employee. 
  • Damages. Once you prove breach of duty and causation, you must then be able to prove that some type of damage was caused because of the incident. The child must have been harmed in some way. You can’t be compensated because the daycare center put your child in danger or you believe there was negligence on the part of the caregiver. There must be some type of actual loss due to negligence.

If You Believe Your Daycare Was Negligent

If you believe your child’s injury was due to negligence at a daycare center or on the part of a caregiver, you may want to pursue a personal injury claim. The daycare negligence attorneys at Bailess Law Firm will start work immediately to investigate the incident that caused your child’s injury, so you can concentrate on helping your child get well. Our firm has years of experience handling personal injury claims against daycare centers and caregivers, and we believe your child deserves a fair, legal recovery. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.