Thousands of parents in the Chicago area drop their child off at daycare in the mornings before work. While they are away, parents trust their chosen daycare facility with their child’s safety and well-being. Parents carefully select daycare facilities, and whether your child goes to a private home or a school environment, you should expect that your child will receive proper care. After all, children cannot protect themselves from harm during daycare. Few things can be as frightening as a call from a daycare informing you that your child has been injured.
While daycares must abide by strict regulations in order to be licensed in Illinois and should be monitored by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), accidents and injuries still happen at daycare facilities on a regular basis in the Chicago area.
Sometimes, the injury is purely accidental—your child simply lost balance and fell down. However, in other cases, you may suspect that your child’s daycare could have prevented the injury—and the injury was actually due to the daycare’s carelessness. In this situation, you should always discuss your concerns with an experienced lawyer who can evaluate the situation.
If your child has been injured, do not wait to call our dedicated personal injury law firm for help today.
Negligence and Causes of Injuries at a Daycare
Because children are so vulnerable, daycares are held to high standards when it comes to providing proper care. Illinois has specific guidelines and requirements for child care licensing, and every daycare is expected to adhere to these standards. Unfortunately, government regulators cannot continuously monitor all daycares for compliance, and many violate the rules, which can result in injuries.
When a daycare fails to meet the required standard of care and injures a child as a result, the daycare can face liability for negligence and any losses stemming from the injury. Negligence can occur in many different ways and result in many types of daycare accidents. Even minor mishaps—harmless in other situations—can cause life-threatening injuries at a daycare.
Examples of negligence that may cause daycare accidents and injuries include:
Inadequate supervision of the children, whether due to an understaffed facility or a staff that simply may not pay proper attention to the children, is a primary cause of daycare accidents. When a daycare leaves a small child unsupervised, the resulting accidents can include:
- Children injuring each other
- Obtaining and using items that can harm them
- Swallowing items and choking
- Falling in pools, tubs, or other water hazards
- Wandering off from the premises
- Eating things they shouldn’t due to allergies
One reason you entrust your child to a particular daycare is so someone can supervise and watch your child while you cannot. If a daycare fails to provide the necessary level of attention to your child and an injury results, you may have a claim for negligent supervision.
Sometimes, daycare injuries occur because the staff doesn’t keep the facility in a safe condition for the children. Anyone with small children knows to keep them away from dangerous items and not to give them access to cabinets, closets, or areas that may store dangerous items. Many daycare injuries can result if children are able to reach the following items:
- Household cleaners
- Knives, razors, or other sharp objects
- Plastic bags or anything that can suffocate them
- Hot objects
The above is far from an exhaustive list of items that, if they are not properly stowed safely away, can cause injuries to children.
In addition, facilities in states of disrepair can violate safety standards and result in injuries. Children may become ill or injured from exposure to toxic chemicals, mold, or other dangerous building conditions. Children can contract serious infections, rashes, and other illnesses due to exposure to unsanitary facilities. Unfortunately, many of these dangerous conditions are not obviously apparent to parents who drop off and pick up their children.
Many daycares also have playground equipment or even swimming pools with which to entertain children. When facilities do not maintain playground equipment or it fails to meet safety regulations, they put children in extreme danger. In addition, swimming pool areas must meet certain specifications, and if they fail to do so, daycares can create dangerous and fatal hazards for children. Many hazards on a daycare’s premises can cause injuries, and our attorneys can evaluate whether your child’s injury was caused by such negligence.
Having a stranger harm your child is almost every parent’s worst nightmare. Daycares should have proper policies and procedures in place to ensure that no one has access to a child without the necessary permission. If a daycare has inadequate security, someone who is allowed to wander into the facility can physically assault, sexually assault, or kidnap children.
Neglect and Abuse
While negligence on the part of the staff or owner of the facility causes many daycare injuries, intentional actions produce others. Sometimes, staff members know they provide subpar care or may even lose their patience and hurt children on purpose. Examples of daycare neglect and abuse include:
- Not providing adequate food and water
- Failing to change diapers or allowing children to remain soiled
- Not attending to injured or ill children
- Isolating or restraining children
- Physically harming children
- Emotionally abusing children
- Sexually abusing children
You should never expect that a daycare or its staff will intentionally neglect or abuse your child, but these cases do happen. Some signs of such misconduct can include any injuries to your child that you cannot explain, repeated injuries in various stages of recovery, changes in personality or behavior, and much more.
Common Daycare Accidents and Injuries
Children can be involved in many types of accidents or incidents that cause serious injuries at daycare. Some common accidents include the following:
- Being dropped
- Playground accidents
- Fights with other children
- Choking on toys or food
- Wandering outside the daycare—possibly near a street
- Abuse by daycare providers
- Abuse or injuries caused by outside parties
- Swimming pool or other drowning accidents
Some of the above accidents may result in cuts, bruises, or relatively minor injuries. Others, however, can cause severe physical and emotional damage to your child. In any event, daycare injuries cost money to treat properly and many parents want to know whether they can hold a daycare liable for their child’s injuries. In addition, many parents are understandably angry when a daycare is negligent and want to seek justice for the harm done to their child.
Who Is Responsible for Your Child’s Injury?
Every parent knows that children can be clumsy and precocious. Even the most vigilant and responsible parents still have dealt with accidents and injuries to their child at home. Sometimes, when a child is injured at daycare, it is not anyone else’s fault and is simply a result of a child’s own behavior.
However, in other situations, children are injured because the daycare was negligent in some manner. To prove negligence, you must demonstrate that the daycare breached the duty of care it owed to your child and that the breach caused your child’s injuries. Some examples of daycare negligence are as follows:
- Not properly supervising a child when needed
- Allowing access to toys or objects that are inappropriate for a child’s age
- Having conditions at the facility that do not meet minimum standards for health and safety
- Having inadequate security to keep out potentially harmful adults
- Having staff who abuse or assault children
- Having dangerous pools, playgrounds, or other equipment
- Improperly storing food, causing illness
- Maintaining unsanitary conditions
Contact Our Chicago Premises Liability Attorneys for Help Today
No child should suffer preventable injuries at daycare, and no parent should have to witness a child in pain or bear the cost of treating such injuries. The attorneys at Abels & Annes in Chicago understand the seriousness of injury cases involving children, and we are fully dedicated to our clients.
If you believe your child’s daycare was negligent and your child was injured as a result, your first call should be to the law firm of Abels & Annes. If you have a case, we will fight for your right to hold the daycare liable for its negligence and your losses, so please call our Chicago personal injury lawyers at 312-924-7575 for more information.