Babysitter Negligence & Abuse Lawyers in Pennsylvania
Child neglect and abuse come in many forms and occurs in many different situations and places – even in our own homes.
Most parents are aware of the inherent dangers of leaving a child with a babysitter or nanny, but often economic circumstances and busy lifestyles mean that there is little choice. The best we can do is to make sure that the babysitter’s background and credentials check out.
Unfortunately, mistakes are made and some abusive childcare professionals slip through the net. This can lead to cases of neglect and abuse – even babysitter sexual abuse.
If your child has suffered abuse or negligence by any caregiver, you may be entitled to compensation. The team of child abuse lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote is at the forefront of assisting the families and victims of such cases in Pennsylvania.
UPDATE: HB 963 to extend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse
- Pennsylvania Statute of Limitation Update 12/15/2020
What is negligent supervision by a babysitter and what do you need to prove?
A claim of negligent supervision is made when a child is injured due to the carelessness or inattention of a caregiver or babysitter who has accepted the responsibility to care for that child.
These cases can be difficult to prove and, generally, the parents need an experienced lawyer for a successful claim for the injuries.
To prevail in negligent supervision cases, you need to prove four main elements, as follows:
- The person or organization you sue accepted the responsibility of supervising your child
- The caregiver failed to properly monitor your child (fell short of reasonable supervision levels)
- Your child’s injury was caused by the caregiver’s failure to properly monitor your child
- The injury to your child was foreseeable (more about this below)
Babysitters and nannies are frequently involved in such cases in Pennsylvania but the laws apply to any caregiver. Other parties that you may claim against could include:
- Teachers and schools
- Daycare providers
- Churches and religious leaders
- Camp counselors
- Foster parents or other parents
Was the neglect by the babysitter foreseeable?
As you have seen, two of the key elements in negligent supervision cases against babysitters are that the child’s injury was caused by a failure to properly monitor the child and that the injury was foreseeable.
In other words, you must prove that your child’s injury was a natural consequence of the babysitter’s failure to supervise the situation.
“Foreseeable” means that a reasonable person could have seen it coming.
If, for example, the child was playing under the babysitter’s supervision in the gated front yard and a drunk driver steers the car off the road, into the garden, and injures the child, the injury is not regarded as foreseeable. No claim against the babysitter could be successful.
However, if the child was allowed by the babysitter to play on or near a busy road in the neighborhood and was injured as a result of a collision with a car driven by a competent driver, a claim could be made against the negligent and careless babysitter as the collision would be considered “foreseeable”.
Some other examples of where a babysitter may be deemed negligent include:
- A baby suffers serious injuries by being locked in a car, which overheats
- A toddler drinks bleach left out with the top open on and within reach
- A young child shoots himself with an unsecured loaded gun
- A child is left to play with matches and starts a fire
- A young unsupervised child falls into a swimming pool
Each of the above situations is foreseeable as a reasonable person exercising due care and attention to the supervision of the child would take steps to prevent the accident. Therefore, a valid claim may be made for compensation.
What are signs of child abuse by a babysitter or nanny in Pennsylvania?
Negligence is difficult enough for a parent to come to terms with if it results in an injury to their child.
Abuse perpetrated by a babysitter or nanny is almost unimaginable to most of us. However, recent cases of sexual abuse in the clergy, foster care homes, youth organizations, and so on in Pennsylvania mean that parents should always be on the guard with anyone they entrust their children to.
The first thing that parents must do is educate themselves on the main signs of child abuse (sexual or otherwise) by a babysitter or nanny:
If your child starts displaying noticeably different behavior, it may be more than just growing pains.
This is a difficult one to spot but any major changes in behavior should be questioned by parents and you should push for answers. A bold outgoing child who suddenly becomes timid and nervous may be quite obvious but sometimes the changes are subtler.
Either way, consider who your child is spending time with when you are not there.
Agitation when it’s time for the babysitter to arrive
If your child reacts with fear, agitation or protestation when told that the babysitter or nanny is due, it should not simply be put down to being separated from you.
It warrants further investigation and careful questioning of your child.
Frequent accidents or injuries when you’re not there
A bump or bruise on a child is not generally a cause for concern. It happens. However, if it happens regularly when left with the babysitter, it could point to poor supervision or worse, abuse.
Both the child and the babysitter should be questioned separately – and if the babysitter seems to always offer a poor excuse, consider what to do next.
Blood on your child’s underwear
No parent wants to confront the sexual abuse of their child but if you notice blood on your child’s underwear, it must be investigated.
Sexual abuse takes many forms and may not involve penetration but you should certainly rule that out if there are any tell-tale signs of something being wrong.
Sleeping problems for your child
Nightmares and bed wetting are typical responses to trauma in children.
So, if your child suddenly develops these patterns of behavior (along with any of the other signs outlined above), you need to probe the cause.
Signs of poor supervision or general inattentiveness/unreliability
If your babysitter is being inattentive or lazy, allowing your child to leave the house in a mess or not following specific instructions you have left, it could mean that your child is not safe.
Similarly, a pattern of arriving late potentially points to a lack of reliability when you are not there.
If you suspect neglect or babysitter abuse in Pennsylvania, the place to start is a free and confidential consultation with an attorney at Andreozzi & Foote.
Rest assured that all the information you provide will be treated confidentially, including your identity.