Letting your child out of your sight isn’t an easy thing to do. However, it’s something that every parent has to go through sooner or later. Kids have to go out into the world to grow up. You have to trust that they can take care of themselves – and that when they can’t, those you have entrusted with the care of your child will do their job.
The vast majority of the time that is exactly what happens. Not always, though. Sometimes, other adults are negligent and children pay the price for their mistakes.
Take the sad case of Heather Jean Henderson. Last month, Henderson, 26, was babysitting two kids – Hunter, 2, and his 4-year-old sister. Henderson decided to take the children out to nearby railroad tracks that were clearly marked with “no trespassing” signs.
You can probably see where this is going. Hunter and Henderson got stuck on the tracks as a train was approaching. Henderson, holding Hunter, tried to jump out of the way, but the train struck both of them. She sustained minor injuries. Hunter’s injuries ended up being fatal.
Due to her actions, Henderson has been charged with aggravated child neglect with great bodily harm. No penalties have been determined yet, but it is likely that Henderson will face years in prison and be forced to pay restitution to Hunter’s family.
We Task Others with Watching Our Kids Everywhere
It’s not just the negligence of babysitters that can lead to your child getting hurt in an accident. We depend upon the vigilance of others all the time, in all kinds of situations:
- School Bus
- Summer Camp
- Public Swimming Pools
That’s just a small sample. The truth is that kids can get hurt just about anywhere, and when someone agrees to supervise them, they are taking on a duty of care to keep those children safe. If an accident occurs during their supervision, it may be a result of negligence, enabling you to hold them accountable and seek compensation by filing a caregiver liability lawsuit.
What Factors Are Involved in Caregiver Liability?
As mentioned above, caregivers (like babysitters or camp counselors) have a duty to the children they are supervising. However, the amount of attention and care that is required varies. There are a few different factors when it comes to caregiver liability, which include:
- Age of the Child: Younger children, especially infants, require more supervision than older children. The age of your child, as well as the age of other children that are around your child, will be considered in a lawsuit.
- Child’s Intellectual or Physical Abilities: Children with disabilities need more care and attention. Parents should collect a record of the child’s disability (including notes from doctors or psychologists), as well as any communication between the parent and the caregiver about the child’s disabilities.
- Child-to-Caregiver Ratio: The more children that are under a caregiver’s care, the more risk you run of a child’s risky behavior going unnoticed and resulting in an injury. If a facility has more children than they can handle, they could face big consequences.
- Waivers: Sports or camp facilities often give parents a waiver before the child is allowed to attend. The waiver will lay out who is liable for a child’s accident, the duties given to caregivers, and so on. Signing this waiver could make a big difference in a personal injury case.
- Foreseeable Injury: Accidents happen, but an accident that could have been prevented may be worthy of a personal injury lawsuit. The central question in a caregiver liability case is this: could more vigilant supervision have prevented the child’s accident?
Think you have a case on your hands? Contact a South Florida personal injury lawyer to begin discussing your options and possible outcomes.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”