Minor injuries like bruises and scrapes are a normal part of childhood play, but no parent wants their child to suffer a serious injury. Daycare facilities are intended to keep kids safe, and most of the time, they succeed through the use of safety protocols and other preventive measures.
However, in some situations, a daycare may fail to provide the safe environment children need, and a child could be injured as a result.
If your child has been hurt at a daycare facility, you may be desperate for answers.
What happened? Could this have been avoided?
Can the daycare be held responsible for your child’s medical bills and other damages?
How Can an Illinois Daycare Accident Attorney Help?
A daycare accident attorney will review the incident that led to your child’s injuries and explain your options for pursuing compensation. Our daycare accident attorneys can quietly look into the facility, speak to witnesses, learn about complaints filed against the daycare, check compliance with state requirements, and search for video evidence of your child’s accident.
If we find evidence that the daycare was negligent, we could seek damages for current and future medical costs, as well as your child’s pain and suffering and any permanent disability or disfigurement.
Is a Daycare Liable for Any Injury That Happens in Their Facility?
No. If your child’s injury could not have been foreseen or prevented, the facility probably isn’t liable.
They are, however, responsible if their negligence caused the child’s injuries. How do we define negligence in daycare facilities?
Any facility that provides childcare has a responsibility to maintain a reasonably safe place for children. If a negligence case against a daycare goes to trial, the court will want to know if the daycare took reasonable steps to prevent injury to the children in its care.
Examples of negligent actions on the part of daycare include:
- Failing to install childproof locks, electrical outlet covers, and other childproofing measures designed to make the facility safe for small children. Or, the facility might install these items, but one becomes broken. If the facility can’t fix the situation right away, they should take steps to make it safe for children. For instance, if a childproof lock on a cabinet breaks and can’t be replaced right away, it would be reasonable for a staff member to move any hazardous items to other locked cupboards in the meantime.
- Slip, trip, and fall hazards. These might include a snagged or torn carpet, items left lying on the floor for an extended period of time, a spilled drink or other liquid that wasn’t promptly cleaned, etc. Again, the focus is on whether staff members took reasonable steps to address the situation. If the accident happened so quickly that no one had an opportunity to fix the hazard, the daycare may not have done anything wrong. But if they ignored a potential problem for several hours, then they might have been negligent.
- Playground accidents. Although it’s not possible to prevent every mishap on the playground, this area should be staffed by enough daycare workers to keep an eye on all the children. Playground equipment should be checked regularly for safety issues that could lead to injury, like rusted components that might break or fail as a child plays. If the daycare doesn’t take these steps, they could be negligent.
- Failure to properly staff the daycare or lack of supervision. Playgrounds aren’t the only place kids need proper supervision. Illinois has strict regulations about staff-to-child ratios based on age groups, and if the facility doesn’t have enough workers for the number of kids in your child’s room, this could increase the risk of an accident. One person can only keep track of so many children at a time.
- Keeping up with recall notices. Unfortunately, toys and other items designed for kids are often recalled for safety concerns. Daycares use many products in these categories, and the manager should stay on top of recent recall notices, checking to see if they have any recalled products on a regular basis. If no one notices a recalled toy and your child is hurt using this item, the daycare may be liable.
- Lack of background checks or negligent hiring. Daycares also have to follow specific rules about background checks for potential employees. If a background check reveals a history of certain criminal behavior, this is an automatic disqualifier for employment in a childcare facility. But what if the daycare manager didn’t do the background check, ignored the results, or failed to review them? In that case, a dangerous person could be caring for your child.
- Training and education. Even if appropriate care is taken in hiring new employees, the facility still has a duty to ensure each worker meets training and education requirements for their job. Tragedies happen when an employee doesn’t know what to do in an emergency. For example, every second counts if a child is choking or experiencing another medical emergency. If an employee doesn’t have training in handling these scary situations, time could be lost getting help for the child.
- Poisons or toxic substances. It’s important for daycares to clean regularly to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like colds and the flu, but cleaning chemicals should be carefully monitored and placed in a locked area when not in use. If an employee carelessly leaves a bottle of bleach or another caustic chemical out where a small child could get to it, the daycare might be negligent.
- Falling object hazards. Small children are curious about everything! Unfortunately, a child who grabs an item on the edge of a desk or table could topple the item, leading to injuries. Daycare workers should keep items away from the edges of surfaces where a child can easily grab them. They should also keep an eye on scissors or other sharp objects and only use the “round edge” scissors that are less likely to cause injury in young kids.
- Lack of care for a child’s allergies or medical issues. If your child has an allergy, needs to take medication throughout the day, or otherwise needs care for a medical condition, you’ve probably given your daycare detailed instructions about handling these needs. If the daycare exposes your child to an allergen or fails to give medication on schedule, they could be negligent if the child suffers a bad reaction. In the case of allergens, it’s important to determine how the allergen arrived in the classroom and if the daycare could have taken reasonable steps to prevent it. For instance, if another child brought in an allergen without the staff’s knowledge, it’s unlikely they were negligent. On the other hand, if a daycare worker served your child a food item without checking the ingredients and noting which children have allergies, the facility may be negligent.
- Car accidents. Childcare facilities frequently have vans or other vehicles to transport children for field trips and other events. If the facility doesn’t have appropriate car seats, or if employees don’t place your child in the right type of car seat for their age and size, and your child is hurt in a car accident, the daycare might be negligent.
- Abuse or neglect. Most daycare injuries are unintentional, but in some situations, an adult may hit or otherwise abuse a child, causing injuries. Sometimes, we find that the daycare had negligent hiring practices, but in other cases, the worker had no concerning history on a background check. The facility could still be negligent if they failed to properly supervise employees if they did not investigate a previous injury or complaint thoroughly, or if they ignored a pattern of injuries or other concerning behavior regarding the employee.
What Should You Do if Your Child Is Injured at Daycare?
First, have your child’s injuries evaluated by a healthcare provider, even if they seem minor. Aside from documenting the injury, your doctor can also ensure the injury isn’t more serious than it seems – sometimes, this can happen with young children.
Next, try to find out more information about how the injury occurred. You should not confront or accuse the daycare staff of any wrongdoing, especially if your child is still attending the facility.
However, there is nothing wrong with asking what happened. One way to approach it is to say that you want to talk with your child about being more careful, so you need to know the events of the incident.
Pay careful attention to what the staff members say.
Are they being defensive or dodging your questions? Can they explain in detail what happened, or are they being vague?
If you get the impression that they don’t want to talk about it, they could be hiding something.
Many daycares today offer online video feeds so parents can check in on their children throughout the day. Some only have a live feed, while others record the video and allow parents to access it later through a secure log-in.
If your daycare has video surveillance, try to find a video of the incident where your child was injured so you can see what happened.
If your child is old enough, ask them how they got hurt. Let them know that they’re not in trouble, but you want to figure out how to prevent them from getting injured in the future.
In addition to inquiring about what happened, ask other questions – who else was there? Was the teacher nearby?
Did they try to help right away? Were any other children hurt?
If you’re still having difficulty piecing together how the injury occurred, you might ask some other parents if their kids mentioned the accident or if their child has ever had a similar injury. Sometimes, we find there is a pattern of unsafe behavior at a daycare in which earlier injuries may have been overlooked because they were more minor.
After a serious injury at daycare, it’s a good idea to keep your child home or arrange other childcare until you know more about how they were hurt. If possible, arrange for a trusted adult to watch your child at home until you’re certain the daycare is safe.
What Can You Do About Medical Bills and Other Damages?
If your child was seriously hurt at daycare, you could have mounting medical bills. At the same time, you’re also trying to comfort your child, who may be in pain or frightened after the accident.
An experienced Illinois daycare accident lawyer can review your case and let you know the options to pursue compensation so your child can get the care they need to recover. Damages could include current and future medical expenses, plus pain and suffering for both physical and mental/emotional harm – accidents can be traumatic for young children.
Some people don’t think to consult an attorney because they don’t consider the daycare’s possible negligence or don’t believe they have a case. We advise you not to make this decision without talking to a lawyer.
It isn’t always obvious who was at fault or how an injury occurred, but your lawyer may be able to investigate the situation further and identify any liable parties.
Talk to an Illinois Daycare Accident Law Firm Today
If you’re upset, angry, or frustrated because your child was injured at daycare, we understand. But we encourage you to talk with a qualified Illinois daycare accident attorney rather than argue with the daycare staff.
Sometimes, confronting daycare staff members leads them to try to cover their tracks, delete videos of the incident, etc. Your legal team will investigate the incident in a subtle, professional manner and work to preserve evidence of the daycare’s culpability.
Please contact The Fakhouri Firm Accident and Injury Lawyers to learn more about your options after your child’s daycare injury. We’ll evaluate your case, answer your questions, and explain the options for pursuing compensation.
Call our firm today at (312) 999-9990 to talk with a compassionate Illinois daycare accident lawyer.
Founder and lead attorney Robert S. Fakhouri is a proud graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law and was one of the youngest people ever to join the Illinois Bar. He gained experience working as a legal clerk and litigation associate before opening The Fakhouri Firm at the age of 25.
Since then, he’s recovered millions of dollars for injured people and their families, with a philosophy of fighting for others inside and outside the courtroom. In his spare time, he makes digestible posts about legal topics for his many followers on social media.