As enrollment in day care facilities continues to increase in the United States, so too do the needs of its students. Childhood food allergies are a significant threat to the safety and health of many young children. When a child is exposed to a food allergen in a day care environment, they are at risk for a serious and life-threatening reaction called anaphylactic shock. When this happens, the allergic reaction is so severe that the child’s airways can swell to the point of suffocation that can cause imminent death if not immediately treated.
Day care administrators along with the teachers and staff of these facilities are legally responsible to provide a safe environment for students, including those with food allergies. Day care students are at high risk for food allergy emergencies since they often experience their first allergic reaction between the ages of two and five. Prevention is key to protection.
Legal Responsibility to Protect All Students
In 2008, Congress passed an amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 that provides specific protections to children with food allergies. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) mandates that all public and private childcare centers and schools provide accommodations and safety measures to protect students from exposure to food allergens.
Parents who are aware that their child has a food allergy can work with the childcare facility to develop a 504 plan that outlines the specific needs of their child. The 504 plan is a legal document that holds the day care or school liable for injuries that occur from carelessness or negligence in implementing the safety plan.
Recently, a three-year-old child in New York City suffered anaphylactic shock when he was served a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch at his day care facility. The child had a known dairy allergy and should not have been fed or exposed to dairy products such as cheese. The day care facility was held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit for failure to protect the child as outlined in the ADAAA.
The parents of a child harmed by exposure to a food allergen have the right to bring a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit against the day care facility. All children have a right to enjoy an environment that is safe and free from unreasonable hazards. Parents of children who suffer injury or death from an allergic reaction may be eligible for financial compensation that can also include punitive damages that ensure the facility protects other children from suffering injury or death.
How to Protect Your Child from a Food Allergen Emergency
Parents of children who have a food allergy can work closely with the day care administration to develop a safety plan to protect their child. The 504 plan can outline specific preventive measures such as:
- Restrictions on exposure to known allergens
- Hand washing procedures
- Emergency response procedures
- Field trip protocols
- Safe environment procedures
Regular contact with school administrators and nurses, teachers, and aides can ensure that these safety measures are in place.
Columbia Day Care Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Advocate for Your Child’s Safety While in Day Care
If your child has been injured in a day care center accident, call the Columbia day care accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. at 803-929-3600, or 866-881-8623, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.
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