A recent tragedy that resulted in the death of a 2 year-old child at a daycare facility in Raleigh, North Carolina has legal significance in the school negligence realm on two fronts:
(1) It serves an important reminder to both daycare facilities and parents about safety precautions that should be taken with respect to assuring that all bookcases are secured, because children will undoubtedly try to climb them; and,
(2) less importantly, the school's knee-jerk response to the incident - which, in my view, is somewhat disturbing - was to deflect any blame for the incident by suggesting that the parent of this small child was solely responsible.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time I've seen this defense tactic; in fact, this is precisely the same tactic that the New York City Department of Education employed in a case that I recently handled where they allowed a 7 year-old child to leave the school unsupervised, and he was promptly hit by a car. Although the City's claim that the child had already been picked up from school by one of his parents was unsupported, that did not prevent them from making the allegation in an attempt to avoid any responsibility for the accident.
In order to undercut this defense, it is important that you gather all evidence, particularly witnesses, who can support your version of events that the child was not in fact picked up from school before the incident took place. It will help assure that you do everything possible to maximize the value of your child's accident claim.
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