Recently I handled a case for a mother whose 2 year old daughter had been injured while in a daycare. The 2 year old girl was in a class with twenty-three other children overseen by two teachers. While the teachers were preoccupied with directing the children from breakfast to playtime, a much larger child got too rambunctious and fell on the little girl’s left leg, fracturing her tibia in two places.
If your child has been injured while in daycare, you may be wondering: what legal recourse is available? The answer to that question depends heavily on your particular circumstances. In the situation outlined above, my client had a very strong case. However, this was not due primarily to the seriousness of the injury, but rather to the ability to clearly prove negligence on the part of the daycare. If your circumstances are similar, you may have a strong case as well.
Why Did My Client Have a Strong Case?
When my client first called me, I immediately advised her to file a complaint with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, also known as Bright from the Start. As a daycare licensed by the state of Georgia, the center where my client’s daughter sustained her injury was required to meet state standards. Once my client filed a complaint, Bright from the Start conducted an investigation of the incident. The findings of this investigation would be incredibly important to my client’s case as they would prove whether or not the little girl’s injury resulted from negligence on the part of the daycare. As it turned out, it did.
Bright from the Start requires licensed daycares to follow specific teacher:child ratios that vary based on the age of the children, as follows:
Under 1 year or under 18 months if not walking = 1:6
1 year and walking = 1:8
2 years = 1:10
3 years = 1:15
4 years 1:18
5 years = 1:20
6 years and older = 1:25
Bright from the Start’s investigation discovered that, on the day of the injury, the little girl’s classroom had a ratio of two teachers to twenty-four 2 year old children. According to state regulations, an additional teacher should have been present. However, the daycare neglected to follow this important rule. Because of this, the two teachers that were present had their hands too full to keep close tabs on all the children. The result? My client’s daughter ended up with a fractured leg.
In this case, a clear line could be drawn from the daycare’s failure to abide by state standards and the injury that occurred. This fact made for a strong case as it clearly showed that the daycare was at fault. But there was an additional layer to the story. Bright from the Start records revealed that this same daycare had also been caught violating state standards on a numerous past occasions. The records showed 11 violations of the staff:child ratio standards alone. This was a major boost for the case as it proved a pattern of negligence on the part of the daycare. In court, a jury would likely see this pattern as grounds for punishing the daycare by awarding my client punitive damages on top of the general damages she would have already received. For this reason, the daycare’s insurer made an offer we couldn’t refuse on the case, and my client received considerable compensation.
How does all this relate to YOU?
If your child was injured while in daycare, it is possible that the fault can be traced to the childcare center’s negligence in following state standards. If so, you may have a strong case. However, to prove negligence, the incident must be investigated, which is why it is very important that you file a complaint with Bright from the Start (Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning). You can get more information about how to file a complaint HERE.
After filing a complaint, get in touch with an attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the complexities of your situation. Maybe the daycare is clearly at fault and in violation of state standards (of which there are many, as you can read about HERE). Or maybe your daycare is exempt from licensure and is not required to follow state standards, which you can read about HERE. Whatever the details of your case, an attorney can help you navigate the many aspects that play into daycare injuries, providing clear expertise on the legal recourse available to you and your child.
I have been representing children in accident cases for over 24 years. My office is located in Conyers, Georgia and I meet with clients all over metro Atlanta (hospital, home visits, wherever is best for you). The best way to reach me is by text or voice at Six-Seven-Eight 358-2564.