Involved in a Crèche Accident?
When people bring their child to a crèche or nursery they expect the highest level of care towards their children, from how the staff interact with the children to staff to child ratios at the crèche. An accident in a crèche that causes injury to a child is treated a little differently to an accident involving an adult. A minor cannot make a claim themselves until they reach the age of 18, however, a parent or guardian of a child (known as the ‘next friend’) can pursue a claim on their behalf.
What is a ‘Next Friend’?
With claims made for a child under the age of 18, a parent or guardian may stand in to represent them because a minor cannot make a claim themselves. The individual who steps in to represent them is known as the ‘next friend’. All information regarding the child and their claim is then passed through this person. Prior to making a claim for them, it is important that the child has received medical attention as the health and well-being of the child is the number one priority in this process.
Who is Liable?
An important first step in the personal injuries claims process is determining who is liable for the injuries which have been sustained by the child. In cases where an accident occurred because of the actions/inactions of the staff then the staff of the nursery or crèche may be held liable. They may have acted in a negligent manner which then led to the accident. All employees should ensure the health and safety of the children in their care at all times. They have a responsibility to do so and should follow all health and safety regulations which are in place as this will help to prevent accidents from occurring.
It is important to note that if another child has contributed to the cause of any injuries sustained that it can be quite difficult to determine who is at fault.
Employees in a crèche or nursery have certain responsibilities and guidelines which must be followed at all times. These guidelines include:
- All employees should be fully trained and qualified.
- There should be health and safety regulations in place.
- At least one member of staff should be first aid trained.
- A report of any accidents that occur should be kept in the record book.
- There should be at least the minimum number of child care workers to the number of children.
Adult to Child Ratios
There are strict regulations in place in regards to the number of responsible adults who should be caring for a group of children. This number will vary on the amount of time in which the children will need care. If these ratios are not maintained the chance of an accident occurring increases.
These ratios are set out as follows:
Full-time and Part-time Hours
Full time hours (5+ hours per day) and part-time hours (3.5 – 5 hours per day) ratios are as follows:
- 0 – 1 Years: 1 Adult to 3 Children
- 1 – 2 Years: 1 Adult to 5 Children
- 2 – 3 Years: 1 Adult to 6 Children
- 3 – 6 Years: 1 Adult to 8 Children
Sessional services (up to 3.5 hours per day) ratios are as follows:
- 0 – 1 Years: 1 Adult to 3 Children
- 1 – 2.5 Years: 1 Adult to 5 Children
- 2.5 – 6 Years: 1 Adult to 11 Children
Common Crèche Accident Injuries
Having your child involved in a crèche accident can be a traumatic experience, especially if your child has suffered any personal injuries. The most common injury claims that can occur after a crèche accident are:
Common Causes of Crèche Accidents*
The below list outlines common causes of crèche accidents:
Injuries caused by defective or unsafe toys can be quite common. These toys can cause a number of injuries from cuts and bruises to becoming a choking hazard for the child. It is often the cases that these toys have become defective as a result of an error made during the manufacturing process. It is important that any of these toys are kept away from children if an employee notices an issue with them. If your child has been injured by a defective toy you should take note of the details relating to the toy. This includes the name, packaging and details of the defect which caused the injury to your child.
Lack of Supervision
When it comes to the care of children it is very important that there is adequate supervision at all times. There should be the correct ratio of adults to children as this can help to prevent accidents and injuries. There should be supervision at all times throughout the day and especially during sport and play activities where the children will be most active.
Faulty and Defective Furniture
Faulty furniture includes any chairs, desks or outdoor play equipment which is faulty or defective in some way. Faulty furniture should be disposed of so that no injuries are sustained as a result. It is important that employees check all furniture and equipment on a regular basis and any damaged furniture should be repaired or replaced in a timely manner.
Poor Food Preparation
In some crèches and nurseries, employees prepare food for the children. If this food is prepared in an unsafe manner or in an unhygienic way, children could become ill as a result of food poisoning. This is a common illness which is caused by eating contaminated foods. It can have serious consequences for both adults and children as it weakens the general health of a person, especially if symptoms persist.
Spillages and Wet Floors
There should be procedures in place to deal with the cleaning of wet floors and spillages. They should be cleaned up in a timely manner so as to avoid accidents and injuries to both children and employees. Warning and wet floor signs should be avoided as children may not understand what this means.
What do I do if my child is involved in a crèche accident?
Following a crèche accident, there are a number of steps you should follow:
Ensure your child receives medical attention
Once you look after your child’s medical needs, you should obtain an accident report form from the crèche.
Document the details of the accident
Collecting the following information about the accident is very important:
- The location of the accident where your child was injured.
- Obtain the contact details of any witnesses to the accident.
- Find out as many details as you can about how the accident happened.
- Obtain an accident report form
- Take photographs and request and obtain CCTV footage of the area.
- Obtain the details of any Garda who may have attended the scene of the accident.
- Request details of any Tusla reports and a copy of the same.
Speak to a personal injury solicitor
All personal injury cases involving a minor must be ruled in front of a Judge. This means that even if a case is settled by an insurance company or a case is assessed by the Injuries Board then a Judge must approve the amount of that settlement. Monies awarded in personal injury claims involving children are lodged in court at the successful conclusion of the case and are available to the child once they reach the age of majority (18).