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When Can an Injured Child Recover Punitive Damages in a Daycare Negligence Case?

Posted by James Paisley | Mar 18, 2018



We've had many cases against daycare facilities where the caregiver's negligence caused an injury to a helpless child, but sometimes the conduct is so depraved or grossly negligent that Georgia's punitive damages statute would apply. O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1 reads that:

(b) Punitive damages may be awarded only in such tort actions in which it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant's actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences..

(c) Punitive damages shall be awarded not as compensation to a plaintiff but solely to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant.

The first and most obvious type case that would yield punitive damages is an intentional harm by a daycare employee where they intended to hurt the child, but this is rare and makes for a complicated case against the insurance carrier as they will often have policy exclusions for intentional acts. The exception to this would be if it had repeatedly happened at the school, the owner had knowledge, and failed to terminate the employee.

Most likely punitive damages would apply in a scenario where the conduct was so egregious or grossly negligent that their conduct amounted to an absolute disregard for the safety of the children. We had a recent case where over the course of 2 years, numerous 2 and 3 year old children at a daycare facility in Atlanta were using training potties and at least 8 times prior to my 2 year old Client being chemically burned, the employees would use a chemical industrial strength cleaner on the potties and these children were getting deep chemical burns that would burn off the skin on their bottoms. Finally the Client's mother had enough and contacted our office. The case was settled prior to trial, but there would absolutely be a claim for additional punitive damages in that scenario. The daycare had used a harmful product, they had knowledge of harm to the children, they continued to use the product, babies kept getting injured and requiring medical attention, and they kept using it time and time again.

Paisley Law, LLC advocates for the rights of children that are victims of negligence - especially when it's against those who are entrusted with children when their parents are not there to protect them.

If you have a child that has been injured at their daycare or pre-school in Georgia, call Paisley Law today. You need an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer who will protect the child's legal rights and vigorously advocate on your behalf to have your child's medical expenses covered, compensated for future expenses, as well as the child's pain and suffering. We represent clients in metro Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. We are lawyers who are committed to helping children that cannot fight for themselves. We invite you to call us at 404.618.0960 for a free consultation today.

About the Author

James Paisley

Firm Founder + Senior Partner Born and raised in Georgia, Attorney James earned an undergraduate degree at Georgia Tech, graduating with high honors. Afterwards, he went on to study law at Florida State University, where he also graduated near the top of his class. James began his legal career i...

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