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Child Drowned at New England Daycare

According to a recent news article from Mass Live, a three-year-old boy has drowned at a New England area daycare.  State troopers have said that, when then the young victim’s parents arrived at the daycare facility to pick up their son, he was nowhere to be found.

1272047_snow1-300x225At this point, everyone began looking for the child, and one staff member searched the entirety of the daycare facility, including the outside area surrounding the building.  The child was eventually found floating in a stream behind the daycare center – in a stream that was partially frozen. 

Once he was found, workers from the daycare pulled the young boy out of the stream and took him inside, where they attempted CPR.  First responders were called to the daycare facility and took over trying to resuscitate the child.  He was taken to a local hospital, where doctors were able to stabilize his vitals, and then he was transported again to a major hospital with a pediatric level-one trauma facility. When he arrived the second hospital, doctors classified him as being in critical condition and attempted to treat him, but the damage from the icy water and lack of oxygen proved too severe, and he was soon pronounced dead.  While hypothermia was certainly a factor, doctors believe drowning was the primary cause of death, though a full autopsy will be performed.

While state police and state health officials are continuing to investigate how the young boy was able to get to the icy creek without staff members knowing or stopping him, it should be noted that nobody has been charged with a crime or formally accused of any negligence as of the time of this fatal daycare injury.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including Boston, a daycare injury lawsuit will typically be filed under a theory of negligence.  The individual daycare workers will be named as defendants, so their employer can be named under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior. This doctrine is also called the master servant doctrine, and it means that an employer will generally be held liable (responsible) for the negligent or intentional acts of his or her employees, as long as the employees were acting in accordance with the scope of their employment.  In other words, if the employee was arguably doing his or her job at the time he or she committed a negligent act, the employer will be liable for any negligence committed by the employee.

There is a defense to this if the employer can show the employee was engaged in what the law calls a frolic and detour.  A frolic and detour means that, while the employee was technically on the clock, he or she was engaging in an activity for his or her own benefit and not that of the employer.  However, generally speaking, a daycare worker at a daycare facility is working in furtherance of the goals of his or her employer.

In addition to direct claims against the employee, which can be imputed to the employer, a plaintiff may be able to file additional claims against the employer directly, such as negligent supervision of an employee, negligent hire of an employee, and negligent retention of any employee who is known to be a problem and potentially negligent.

If you are injured in an accident in Boston, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Vermont toddler drowns at daycare, February 13, 2016, Mass Live, By Dave Canton

More Blog Entries:

Wilkins v. City of Haverhill – Massachusetts Supreme Court Weighs Slip-and-Fall Claim, May 23, 2014, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog