Is Daycare Worker Liable for Injuries when He Swings a Child by the Ankles?
A six-year-old boy who had been enrolled in a before- and after-school program, suffered a fractured skull at the hands of a program worker. Surveillance cameras in the center clearly showed the event that caused the injury. The daycare employee was caught on camera grasping the boy’s ankles and swinging him around over his head. While doing this, the video showed the child’s head being slammed into the floor, causing him to lose consciousness, and causing a skull fracture.
After the incident, the daycare worker did not report the incident to the daycare management. He did not report the incident to the police. He did not report the incident to the child’s parents. Instead, he offered several explanations to the parents of why the child was dazed and disoriented. No rationale was ever offered for why the daycare worker swung the child by his ankles. On the night of the incident, the surveillance video was viewed by another employee of the daycare. This employee reported the true nature of the incident to the boy’s parents.
The boy was taken to the emergency room twice due to bleeding on the brain. This did not require excessive intervention on either of these occasions. By the end of a 45 day period, the boy’s symptoms had cleared. The bleeding from the brain was absorbed by the body, and neuropsychological tests indicated no permanent damage or mental impairment. Yet the boy had no memory of the incident.
Defendant’s insurance company filed a declaratory judgment action in a federal court arguing that the injuries were intentional, and that therefore they were under no obligation to provide coverage. The day care worker tried to claim that the incident was really a case of “horse play” gone awry. He was sentenced to three years in the penitentiary.
The civil personal injury matter was resolved in mediation. Plaintiff was awarded a settlement of $450,000, which was structured to begin payments to plaintiff at age 25 and paying $2000 per month for 29 years and nine months.
Although the reason for this incident remains unclear, it is a good reminder to all parents to investigate carefully any preschool or daycare center before they enroll their child. It is also a reminder that parents need to monitor activities when they are in a day care program and remain alert to any change in their child’s behavior or thinking.
Despite parents’ monitoring negligence, inappropriate behavior, or intent to inflict harm can cause a child to be injured. We sincerely hope that your child will not suffer harm. If, however, you need Altizer Law, PC, we are here. Our trusted and experienced attorneys will work to protect your child and your family and aggressively pursue the maximum financial settlement allowed by Virginia law. Click here to send us a message, or call our office.