A pediatric poisoning injury occurs when an infant or a child ingests a substance that is dangerous or causes an unsafe reaction in the child. In many cases, the injury occurs when the child accesses and ingests or inhales a poisonous or toxic substance.
Because children are so much smaller than adults, a common, everyday object or substance may be toxic or lethal to them, especially in higher doses. For example, if a child ingested or inhaled cooking or food ingredients, such as cinnamon, in large amounts, they may suffer serious injuries.
Pediatric poisoning may lead to serious injuries and conditions, which may include:
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Damage to the stomach or internal organs;
- Dangerous effects on breathing or heart rate; and
- Asphyxiation, or the inability to breathe, or choking.
Common items or substances involved in pediatric poisoning cases include:
- Medicines or medical related substances, such as hydrogen peroxide;
- Cleaning chemicals and sprays;
- Soaps and other bathing products;
- Food and cooking products;
- Pesticides; and
- Various other toxic substances.
Pediatric poisoning injuries can also result from exposure to chemicals that are contained in some baby products and toys.
Who can be Held Liable for Pediatric Poisoning Incidents?
In numerous cases, a pediatric poisoning injury can be traced back to some sort of defect with a product. In these cases, the manufacturer or distributor of the defective product may be held liable for injuries sustained by the product. Product defect issues may include:
- The product is overly toxic;
- The product does not conform to health and safety standards;
- There are issues with the safety seal of the product, such as the lid or package is easy for children to open; and
- There are insufficient warnings on the labels, especially with regard to storage or access to the product.
There are also other parties that may be held liable if they negligently allow a child to be exposed to products or items that may be poisonous to them. For example, if a childcare facility fails to take the proper precautions for preventing a pediatric poisoning incident, they may be liable for negligence.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is an individual’s failure to exercise reasonable care that results in injury to another or damage to their property. Negligence laws become more complex in cases of childcare supervision issues.
A daycare center or nursery school is not primarily designed to ensure the safety of each child in attendance. However, these facilities owe children a high level of care with respect to:
- The children’s ages;
- The activities they engage in;
- The employees’ abilities to foresee and avoid perils; and
- Other circumstances.
Courts have held that preschool nurseries are primarily intended to provide children with supervision. Because of this, the duty owed by nurseries and other child care facilities is substantially different from the duty owed by schools whose primary function is to educate children.
Can a Childcare Facility Be Held Liable for Injuries to Children?
Yes, a childcare facility may be held liable for an injury to a child. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the childcare facility may be held liable for an injury a child sustains while under their care.
There are three legal theories court generally use to hold a child care facility liable for a child’s injury, including:
- Negligence per se; and
- Res ipsa loquitur.
Negligence occurs when the child care facility breaches their duty of care to the child which results in an injury. For example, suppose a young child is hit in the face with a baseball bat at summer camp. The child and their parents may be able to recover damages for the injury from the summer camp, depending on the level of care the counselors were exercising at the time of the injury.
Suppose further that there was one camp counselor supervising 15 children when they observed a young boy pick up a baseball bat. The boy practiced his swing and struck another young girl who was walking behind him while looking down at a drink she was carrying.
In this case, a court will likely hold the summer camp liable for negligence because the supervision was inadequate under the circumstances. In other words, the ratio of counselors to children was not sufficient for safety.
Negligence per se occurs when an action is inherently negligent because a law was broken in some way. In many states, there are statutes that regulate child care facilities. Therefore, if a child is being cared for by a child care facility and is injured and a law is also broken by the facility, the facility may be liable under the theory of negligence per se.
For example, suppose a child care facility is in violation of a statute that requires a specific ratio of staff members to children and the facility fails to maintain that ratio. The facility may, as a result, be liable for any injuries that result as a consequence of violating that statute.
Res Ipsa Loquitur is a Latin phrase meaning, “the thing speaks for itself.” This is a legal theory that provides that harm would not ordinarily occur without an individual’s negligence. In some cases, courts have applied the theory of res ipsa loquitur to child care injuries, reasoning that the child would not have been injured unless the facility was negligent.
For example, suppose a young child is in nursery school when they suffer a concussion and nerve damages. The child’s mother had dropped them off at the school and, when she returned, was told the child had wet their pants. When the mother returned home, she noticed the child’s eyes were crossed and they had a sizable bump on their head.
A court would likely apply the theory of res ipsa loquitur in this case, although the actual cause of the injury is a mystery. This theory would be appropriate because it is reasonable to infer that the child care facility was negligent and that negligence was the cause of the child’s injury.
Are There any Legal Remedies for Pediatric Poisoning Claims?
Various legal remedies may be available for pediatric poisoning claims. A pediatric poisoning injury is a serious matter that may lead to a severe injury in a child.
Pediatric poisoning claims usually require legal action to resolve any disputes or conflicts. These lawsuits may result in a monetary damages award for the injured party or the parents or guardians.
A damages award may be ordered by a court to cover losses including:
- Hospital expenses,
- Medication costs,
- Costs of surgery, and
- Other related expenses.
In cases that involve the wrongful death of a child, further damages may be awarded. In cases where the issue is a product defect, there may be other remedies, such as product recalls or a class action lawsuit.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Pediatric Poisoning Lawsuit?
It is essential to have the assistance of a class action lawyer with your pediatric poisoning claim. These cases are very complex and require an attorney’s help in order to present what may be complicated medical evidence in the proper manner. Your attorney can review your case, determine if damages may be available to you, and represent you during any court proceedings, if necessary.
A pediatric poisoning case can be extremely stressful and frightening for any family. A lawyer will fight for your child’s right and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.