As personal injuries attorneys, located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, we have counseled clients with regard to daycare injuries. If your child is injured in a daycare center, the personal injury and premises liability laws of South Carolina will control the circumstances and extent to which your daycare will be held responsible. To establish a claim for negligence, you must prove that your daycare had a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and then due to that breach, caused an injury to your child. In this article, we will discuss the duty of care, proving causation, liability waivers, and the most common daycare injuries in South Carolina.
WHAT IS A DAYCARE’S DUTY OF CARE IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
To prove negligence caused your child’s injuries, you must show that the daycare facility failed to exercise a duty of care to prevent a foreseeable injury. A duty of care is the degree of care that a daycare facility would reasonably be expected to exercise to prevent foreseeable harm. This is often determined based on how the circumstances that led to your child’s injury compare to how normal daycare centers should be operated.
When evaluating an injury to determine if the daycare center took the appropriate care, there are two main factors to consider:
The cause of the injury or how the injury occurred. Was the injury caused by inadequate supervision of your child by daycare employees? If employees were negligent in the supervision of your child, then the daycare facility would be liable for the negligence of the employees’ actions during the course and scope of their employment. If an employee was doing something outside the course and scope of their employment, the daycare center may be able to claim that it was not liable.
The nature of the injury and whether or not it was foreseeable. When evaluating this factor, a court will ask whether or not the circumstances were ones that a reasonable daycare facility should have prevented. Examples of potential, foreseeable incidents include:
- a child injured after falling from playground equipment
- a child injured due to unsanitary conditions
- a child injured after bumping or tripping over an object
These are only a few potential examples of foreseeable harm that a reasonable daycare center could have helped prevent. There are numerous other potential causes of your child’s injury at a daycare facility. The facts of your particular case and your child’s injury will determine whether or not the daycare facility was negligent by failing to exercise due care.
HOW DO I PROVE CAUSATION IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
Once you establish a duty of due care and a breach of that duty of due care on the part of the daycare facility, you need to prove causation. Causation requires the court to ask, “But for the daycare facility not taking precautions, would your child have been injured?” If the answer is no, then you have established the negligence of the daycare facility was the actual cause of your child’s injuries. You then need to establish that the daycare facility was also the proximate cause of your child’s injuries. “Proximate cause,” asks whether there were there any intervening events that were unforeseeable that contributed to your child’s injury. If the answer is yes, the daycare center is not negligent. If you can prove all of these elements, you can establish that the daycare facility is negligent and, therefore, liable for your child’s injuries.
ARE DAYCARE LIABILITY WAIVERS VALID IF MY CHILD IS INJURED IN DAYCARE IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
Nearly all daycare providers require parents to sign waivers of liability before enrolling a child in care. These releases grant provisions for emergencies when the care provider must get medical attention for an injured child when the daycare center cannot contact the parents quickly enough. However, other sections of the release typically include an indemnity clause stating that the parents forfeit their right to sue in the event that a child is hurt while in their care; this does not mean parents have signed away their right to compensation if their child is injured. The courts have made it clear that it is against public policy to grant immunity to daycare centers before a child is hurt, as this could allow daycare centers to act negligently without consequence. Especially since the victims in question are innocent and defenseless children, the courts cannot condone a waiver that lifts responsibility from the daycare center.
Therefore, although parents sign a clause not to press charges in the event of injury, in a court of law, this clause is completely useless. Daycare centers continue to include it in their waivers to discourage parents from filing claims, but informed parents know that this is just a bluff, and, if their child is injured, they have a right to file a lawsuit for compensation.
DO I HAVE TO ACCEPT THE INSURANCE COMPANY’S SETTLEMENT OFFER IN DAYCARE LAWSUITS IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
Prior to filing a lawsuit, present your claim to the insurance carrier of the daycare facility. Before you sign a settlement agreement prepared by an insurance company, schedule a free consultation with the Lewis Law Firm to review the proposal. Our attorneys will ensure that you do not accidentally waive any of your child’s rights or remedies. If you are dissatisfied with the settlement offer from the insurance carrier, then proceed to file a lawsuit for negligence against the daycare facility.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON DAYCARE INJURIES IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
The most common daycare injuries include:
- Playground Injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 200,000 children are injured on playgrounds every year, and almost half of those injuries are serious, including bone fractures, internal injuries, and concussions. Many daycare facilities either have playgrounds or take children to visit playgrounds, thus, playground injuries can happen during daycare as well. While some of these injuries are due to faulty playground equipment, many can be prevented with diligent supervision.
- Loose and Falling Objects. Every parent knows that a child’s curiosity for loose items on tables, shelves, chairs, and desks is infinite. When you are choosing a daycare, make sure you tour the facility and keep an eye out for potential dangers. If the daycare has tall bookshelves, they should be securely anchored to the wall and be free of any heavy objects. If you would not feel safe with it in your own home, it is probably unsuitable for a daycare facility.
- Bottle Warmer Burns. Something many parents fail to consider is how their children will be fed at daycare, or more specifically, how their child’s bottle will be warmed and burns from bottle warmers are all too common. Especially dangerous are the slow cooker – a type of bottle warmers as they are filled with hot water to heat several bottles at once. Children have been known to reach for their bottles and pull on cords or the slow cooker itself, tipping the scalding water onto themselves and suffering a series of burns.
If your child comes home with unexplained or repeated injuries or injuries that do not make sense such as bruises in the shape of an object or broken bones such that your child cannot walk or climb, this might indicate abuse. If you have any suspicions that your child is being abused at daycare, do not hesitate to contact law enforcement as soon as possible.
Your children are your most valuable possession and, as such, it is our inherent duty to love and protect them. When we hand our children and their safety to daycare professionals, we should not have to worry if they are to be picked up from daycare or the hospital. Fortunately, intentional injuries at daycare centers are very uncommon. If your child has been injured at daycare, call the Lewis Law Firm. We will ensure that you and your child’s rights are protected.