Many parents use daycares, baby sitters, camp counselors and other caregivers, to have someone looking out and caring for their child while at work or away from the home. When you hire a caregiver, you put a great deal of trust in that individual or facility to keep your child safe from harm. If your child sustains injury while in their care, it can leave you feeling devastated and betrayed, as well as left with many unanswered questions.
Was the caregiver keeping a close eye on your child? How did the accident occur when a caregiver was supposed to be present at all times? What are the facility’s policies on injuries? Is the caregiver liable or will you and your family have to bear the financial burden?
In these situations the caregiver may be ultimately be both legally and financially liable for your child’s injuries.
How Do Injuries Happen When a Caregiver is Present?
In many cases, negligence or carelessness on the part of the caregiver leads to accidents and injuries among children under their care. When a babysitter spends more time talking with or texting friends than watching the child in his or her care, a child may find some way to stay entertained that causes harm. Daycares that are insufficiently staffed, do not adequately maintain the property where services are provided, or fail to adhere to North Carolina’s child care laws and rules put the children under their care at risk.
Children are naturally curious. At times, their curiosity can involve dangerous activities such as trying to scale a bookshelf, sliding down a banister or jumping from a significant height. Injuries can also occur when a child sneaks outside to go swimming without adult supervision, sticks a metal object into an outlet, drinks a colorful (yet poisonous) liquid or bites down on an electrical wire.
All it may take is a few seconds of being distracted for serious injury or death to occur. When a caregiver has children under his or her care, that caregiver must be attentive and diligent at all times. Leaving a child in a high chair unattended, failing to lock an outside gate, or allowing oneself to become distracted by other people or activities are examples of careless or negligent behavior which could lead to an avoidable tragedy.
How Does a Caregiver Become Liable Under the Law?
Caregivers have a duty to protect the children in their care and keep them safe. Failure to fulfill this duty means the caregiver can be held liable for injuries which occur as a result of the caregiver’s negligence. Essentially, when an injury could have been easily avoided, had it not been for the negligent actions of the caregiver, it is the caregiver who must be held accountable.
Examples of hazards or negligence which could make a caregiver liable under the law include:
- Leaving children unsupervised;
- Allowing recalled, dangerous or defective toys to remain in the play area;
- Failing to secure bookshelves and other heavy objects to the wall;
- Wet floors;
- Uneven floors;
- Improperly stored medications;
- Leaving chemicals within the reach of children;
- Leaving gates or doors open and unlocked;
- Allowing children to play on unsafe playground equipment; and
- Neglecting to lock cabinets or drawers with sharp objects.
What Caregivers Can Be Held Responsible?
Caregivers can be held liable for your child’s injuries only so long as the negligent individual or facility accepted responsibility for supervising your child and providing him or her with care. If the caregiver did in fact accept responsibility, then you must be able to prove the sitter, daycare attendant, camp counselor or other caregiver acting negligently in providing your child with the expected level of care and it was that negligence which was directly responsible for causing the injury.
If your child’s injury could have been prevented, and the caregiver was aware or should have been aware of the potential danger he or she faced, that caregiver can be held responsible for damages related to your child’s injury.
Teachers, daycare staff, babysitters, camp counselors, nannies, Sunday Service attendants, schools, camps, daycare facilities, and even other parents can be held responsible for injuries your child sustains while under their care.
Why You Need Riddle & Brantley
Proving negligence after your child sustains injury while in another person’s care is not always a simple task. With the help of the attorneys at Riddle & Brantley, you will have a much greater chance of gathering the evidence necessary to prove the caregiver’s negligence, substantiate your claim and pursue damages from the responsible individuals or organization.
- North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education: Summary of the North Carolina Child Care Law and Rules