Atlanta Child Daycare Injury Lawyer
Compassionate Child Daycare Injury Lawyers in Atlanta, Georgia
When your child is hurt at daycare, there is a flood of powerful feelings; worry, anger, and frustration. I have four children and being a parent is a constant balance of trust and fear. We hope we can trust our daycare. When my daughter was enrolled in daycare at 4 months, I remember with crystal clarity getting the phone call that a child in her class had viral meningitis! They closed the school for a week and cleaned everything. The panic, the “what-ifs”, the how could this happen.
There are few things in life so scary as knowing your child has been exposed to harm. After 50-plus years of handling these cases, we are able to let you know upfront if a case is viable or not. We all understand that accidents can happen but when they happen because safety rules are ignored and the injury could have been prevented, it may be time to take action. Atlanta child daycare facilities have a duty of care to provide a safe environment for their young ones. When they fail to do so, a daycare can be found liable for their negligence in causing a child’s injuries and owe compensation to the family of the injured child. Our Atlanta child daycare injury lawyers can help in these situations.
One of the key things to look at is the Bright from the Start or DECAL reports for the facility. You can find out more information here and violations can be reported to the State of Georgia here. All incidents of serious injury and death are supposed to be reported to Bright from the Start and you can submit a Freedom of Information Open Records request about particular daycare to see what their track record is.
The State of Georgia heavily regulates the operations of daycare, whether it be from a home or commercial space. All operators must be licensed by the State with careful training requirements. These rules do have a few exceptions mostly allowing for short term, babysitting type care:
- Parent’s Morning Out, Parent’s Night Out, or similar programs which operate for no more than one session of up to four (4) consecutive hours per day and which limit attendance to no more than eight (8) hours a week per child.
- Nursery schools, playschools, kindergartens or other educational programs for children aged 2 through 6 years of age which operate for no more than 4 hours per day.
- Day camp programs for kids over 5 and only operating during summer and other school breaks and no more than 12 hours per day. s
- Short-term educational or recreational activities or classes for children in which the supervision and care of the children are incidental to their participation in the activity or training in specific subjects, such as, but not limited to, music lessons, dance classes, swim lessons, etc.
- Any short-term child care service provided by an establishment for the convenience of the parents, think childcare while dining, going to yoga at a gym, etc.
Maximum Class Size and Number of Caregivers Required in Georgia Daycare
The State strictly monitors and restricts care for non-walking children under 18 months or walkers under 12 months because they tend to be weaker and unable to get out of harm’s way. For those children, there may be no more than 12 kids per class with a ration of 6 babies to one caregiver maximum. As the children age and become less vulnerable, the ratio changes to a 1:8 caregiver ration and max class of 16.
The next step up is at age 2 when it goes to 1:10 with a max of 20 kids and then at 3 it goes to 1:15 and a max of 30 kids per class.
In the tragic 2021 case where a home daycare provider placed a 4 month old infant face down for a nap and then did not check on them for 2 hours, the State ultimately charged her with murder because belly naps are not allowed and she had 8 infants under her care, in violation of the regulations. The analysis of the video from that day shows a series of abusive behaviors by Amanda Hickey as she tried to watch 9 children including dropping them on their heads into the pack and play and covering one infant who was crying in the bouncer chair. It is heartbreaking to think of what these children were suffering with no parent to protect them.
Possible Negligence at Daycare Facilities
Parents pay daycare centers with the reasonable expectation that they will provide a safe environment while caring for their children who can’t do it themselves. When injuries happen, many times they can be traced back to simple neglect. Liability may fall on the daycare for a child’s injuries in the following types of scenarios:
- Slips and falls
- Playground accidents
- Fingers slammed in doors
- Too Few instructors monitoring behavior
- Physical, verbal, and/or sexual abuse
- Inadequate access to food or water
- Choking or ingesting non-food objects
- Injuries from children fighting
- Improper gating or fencing
- Exposure to chemicals, toxic substances, or sharp objects
These are only a few of the many more instances where a child daycare could be considered negligent in causing injury to a child.
Determining Liability in Child Care Injuries
When evaluating an injury to determine if a daycare facility is liable, there are two main factors to consider:
Cause of the Injury
The cause or how the injury occurred has a large role in determining liability. For example, if an employee was negligent in their supervision of your child, then the daycare center would be liable for the negligence of their employee’s actions. If an employee acts outside the scope of their employment, the daycare facility may have the ability to claim that it was not liable.
Nature of the Injury
Whether or not the injury was foreseeable also is a large factor in liability. The court will look at whether the circumstances surrounding the injury were foreseeable and if a reasonable daycare center should have and could have prevented them. For example, some foreseeable incidents may include falling from playground equipment, unsanitary conditions, or tripping over an object.
Proving Liability in a Child Daycare Injury Claim
In order to hold a daycare center liable for a child’s injury, there are four elements that need to be proven in order to determine liability:
- The child care provider had a duty to exercise reasonable care;
- The child care provider breached that duty;
- If not for the child care provider’s actions (or lack of action), the child’s injury would not have occurred;
- And that breach was the sole cause of the child’s injury.
Child care providers are required to provide the duty of reasonable care, when they fail to do so you may be entitled to monetary compensation for damages suffered.
What if I Don’t Know Exactly How my Child Broke a Bone? How Do I Prove the Daycare was Responsible?
We have handled a number of cases where the facility covers up their negligence with a simple story such as “she was just running and fell.” It is very fact specific but sometimes the nature of the injury is one that without negligence, it just cannot happen. There is an appellate case that went into exactly this topic. In PERSINGER et al. v. STEP BY STEP INFANT DEVELOPMENT CENTER, a 2002 Court of Appeals case, an 18-month-old child broke his left femur while under the care of Step By Step Infant Development Center daycare. His parents sued the daycare for negligence. The trial court threw the case out on summary judgment saying that the parents could not prove that negligence caused the injury.
The teacher said the child fell on the carpeted floor while running toward her and seemed to twist his leg. Standing on its own, that is summary judgment the court said. However, the surgeon opined that the type of break James sustained would not have reasonably occurred from simply walking or running, and that his foot must have been “locked” in place for the break to have occurred that way. The parents argued that, given the Doctor’s opinion that the injury cannot occur in the way the teacher said, under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself) allows a negligence inference in some cases based on circumstances. Here, the court found the expert testimony supported applying that doctrine, as the injury was of a type not ordinarily occurring without negligence. In summary, the parents presented enough evidence through expert testimony to create an issue of material fact and have their case heard by a jury rather than dismissed via summary judgment.
It was still a difficult case to prove wrongdoing, but at least they get a day in court.
Contact Our Atlanta Child Daycare Injury Lawyer
Our legal team at The Simon Law Firm works closely with families to minimize the stress and strain that a preventable child injury can create. Discuss your case for free today with a skilled Atlanta child daycare injury lawyer. Call (404) 259-7635 or fill out our online contact form.