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Claims Corner: Vehicle Stolen or Vandalized

So much of your time is devoted to the care of the children, dealing with the state inspectors, addressing the concerns of the parents and handling the individual issues of your staff, you don’t usually have the time to consider your vehicles. As long as you keep the vehicles maintained and gassed you expect that they will be there waiting for you each day.

We have seen dozens of vehicles that have been stolen or vandalized in the past 3 years. These vehicles are generally left in the school’s parking lot at night and over the weekend. Criminals that are interested in taking a vehicle out for a joy ride are always pleased to find an automobile that is not attended which makes your vehicles very attractive targets.

Usually, preschool vans that are stolen for a joy ride are recovered within 1 – 3 days; sadly, the van is returned to the school in a damaged condition. Broken windows, destroyed dashboards, transmissions stripped, brakes burned out, seats cut, headliners sliced… all of these damages have been inflicted upon school vans taken for a joy ride.

Claims Corner: School Accused of Burning Child


A three month old baby had third degree burns. As the photo shows, these are very serious burns. There is now a serious confusion over where the child suffered the burn. Was he burned at school or was he burned at home. The media coverage for this story can be found online :


Although I cannot possible know what did happen to this baby I can make some suggestions regarding how to keep your school out of a he said, she said situation. First and foremost, look at every child’s physical condition during the drop off time frame. If there appears to be an injury bring it to mom or dad’s attention before they leave and make a note right on the spot. Secondly, pay attention to the child’s mood and temperament: do they seem fussier than normal, are they glassy eyed, are they non-responsive? These changes are important to note and ask mom or dad what is behind the change.

Finally, if a child is verbal, ask them how their evening and morning went. Kids can’t wait to tell you all about themselves. These steps are important to protect your school and the children in your school.


Johnny falls and skins a knee. Suzy gets poked in the eye during a tussle with Kate and scratches her in retaliation. Timmy throws a toy into the air that lands on Tyler's head. And little Wendel bites Amy.

Is this just another day at child care or five possible lawsuits?

That depends not only on the parents' reactions, but your actions as well.

Realize that everything that happens to their child is important to the parent. No matter how minor you may believe an incident to be, it is far better the parent hear about it from you before hearing it from their child. This goes doubly for any truly serious incident.

If the incident was minor, your tone of voice and attitude while telling the parent about it will convey that fact to the parent. It also lets them know you're "on the ball" and paying attention to their child. Let them know what happened, what you did about it. If mom or dad first hears about it from their child they might get the impression of neglect, indifference or that you're trying to hide something from them.

To protect yourself, make sure you’re using incident reports faithfully. It never hurts to be prepared. People get sued for nothing every day.

school liability for chinese made toddler table

Many schools have experienced problems with toddler feeding tables. These tables can collapse. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the tables collapse with children seated. Such a situation can result in bumps, bruises and broken legs.

Initially it would seem that the school did nothing wrong and any lawsuit would end up the problem of the table manufacturer. Sadly, this is not always the case. Lawyers in America will name the school, the store that retailed the table to the school, the wholesaler that supplied the retailer and finally the manufacturer of the table. The manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer will all be quick to defend themselves by asserting that you failed to assemble the table properly. Assuming you can prove you assembled it correctly you still aren’t necessarily off the hook.

The last claim of this sort that we saw, the child suffered a broken leg and a contusion to the head. The leg healed without any permanent damage but the parents did sue the school. The claim settled for $45,000.

If the table is manufactured in a country other than America it may be impossible for the family of the injured child to pursue legal remedies against the manufacturer. This means that your school can end up holding the bag.

Be sure that you are getting sturdy products, that you are using the products as recommended and that you are putting the products together as recommended; better yet, purchase the products already assembled.

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