Few things are more terrifying to a parent or a family member than to receive a phone call that your child or elderly relative has been injured or to see signs of child or elder abuse and neglect. When you place your child or an elderly relative in the care of another, it is a reasonable expectation that your child or elderly relative will be competently cared for. However, if you suspect that negligent supervision has occurred, it is imperative that you speak to a lawyer right away.
Elements of Negligent Supervision
In order to win a case of negligent supervision, the following elements must be proven:
- A duty of care. This is relatively easy to prove. This refers to a situation in which the defendant has a duty to monitor or care for a third party. As an example, if you place your child or an elderly person in the care of a third party in a professional setting, the care provider generally owes a duty of care to your child or the elderly person.
- A breach of the duty of care. This means that the defendant failed to properly supervise the person. For example, if you put your child in day care, and the person supervising your child leaves the premises and your child wanders off and is hit by a car, this would be a strong case for negligent supervision.
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages. To recover monetary compensation, the plaintiff or aggrieved party must show that he or she suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. For example, using the example above, any injuries sustained by a child hit by the car would be actionable. But if the child was hit by a car and miraculously suffered no injuries, then there would likely be no case.
- The damages were foreseeable. The damages suffered by the plaintiff must be reasonably foreseeable and related to the defendant’s negligence. Using the example above, if a child is hit by a car, all injuries sustained in that accident would be foreseeable. However, if the child is going to the doctor for a follow-up visit for treatment for his or her car accident injuries and slips and falls in the doctor’s office, those injuries most likely would not be reasonably foreseeable from the defendant’s negligent supervision.
Negligent Supervision of Children
There are two situations that could give rise to a negligent supervision claim: your child was injured as a result of an inattentive caregiver, or you left your child in another’s care and that third party failed to supervise a child.
Potentially Liable People and Entities
If your child is injured due to the inattentiveness or failure to supervise by a third party, potential defendants may be:
- Day care providers
- Youth group leaders
- Camp counselors
- Foster parents
Examples of Negligent Supervision of Children
These are some common examples of negligent supervision of children:
- Injuries sustained by children due to a day care not having enough staff and properly monitoring the children on the premises
- Caregivers failing to protect children from dangers such as traffic, animals on the premises, train tracks, and pools
- Parents allowing children to use harmful drugs at unsupervised parties
- A child ingesting toxic chemicals left out on a counter
- Children playing with matches and starting a house fire
- An accidental shooting after a child finds an unsecured gun
- Foster parents neglecting a child in their care
- A parent allowing a young child to drive a car
- A day care failing to monitor a violent child who injures another child
- Abuse or neglect of a child in day care
Negligent Supervision of the Elderly
Caregivers have a professional responsibility to elderly persons when that elderly person is in their care. Most negligent supervision cases take place in elder care homes or in an in home care situation.
Potentially Liable People and Entities
These are some of the potential defendants in a negligent supervision of the elderly case.
- Elder care administrators
- Any elder care provider
- Elder care staff
- A home health care provider
- A supervisor or employer of a home health care provider
Signs of Elderly Neglect
If you suspect that an elderly loved one is not being cared for properly, these are some of the signs to look for:
- Improper hygiene
- Shying away from family, friends or loved ones whom the elder person once felt comfortable with
- Less contact and communication with persons they once had regular contact with
- Unclean conditions
- Any signs that the elder person is being harassed or intimidated
- That the elder person does not have access to a phone, email or other means to contact family and trusted friends
- Exhibiting fear that is not otherwise explained by a dementia or another medical condition
- Cutting off contact with once trust family members or loved ones.
- Bruises, sores or other unexplained injuries
- Financial accounts being drained or dramatic or sudden changes in estate planning
Examples of Negligent Supervision of the Elderly
These are some common examples of negligent supervision of the elderly.
- Infections or sores from neglect or observing basic hygiene
- Failing to prevent dementia patients from wandering off the premises
- Failing to administer proper medication
- Failing to keep the elder care premises safe
- Choking on improperly prepared food
- Ignoring physical or emotional abuse
What to Do if You Suspect Neglect of a Child or Elderly Relative
If you suspect or have evidence of either your child or an elderly person being injured, it is important that you take the following steps.
- Make sure that the injured person receives medical attention
- Speak with the administrative staff, with the guidance of a lawyer, about how the situation is being handled
- Contact the authorities, if necessary
- If needed, have your child or the elderly person moved to another location, school or care provider
- Review your insurance policies pertaining to your child or elderly relative
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
To learn more about negligent supervision cases and the factors involved, call Decatur personal injury attorneys at McCarthy, Rowden & Baker at 217-428-4323 today.