Having a babysitter come into your home, for a work-at-home parent is a big convenience and luxury. Not only are you on site should an emergency crop up, you can interact with your kids during short breaks from work. Instead of milling around the water cooler in an office, you can sit with them while they sip juice and watch cartoons.
Keeping children safe at all times is the most important thing that parents require of a babysitter. However, parents are also responsible to ensure that their homes are safe for the babysitter as well. As diligent as a parent may be, there are times when accidents happen and a babysitter could fall victim to an unpleasant accident.
The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. points out that a workplace has to provide safety. Your home is the babysitter’s workplace. Should anyone become injured while on your property, there is potential of legal liability for them. In those cases, most homeowner’s insurance will cover injuries should an accident occur. Below are some steps to take if a nanny or babysitter happens to be injured while caring for kids in your home.
1. Ensure that the immediate danger is handled. If you are away at a meeting and something happens, make sure the babysitter knows what to do. Some babysitters may panic and call you rather than calling 911. If this happens, you should make sure that appropriate authorities have been contacted to minimize injury and further damage.
2. Arrange to get to the property as soon as possible. If possible, contact friends, family and neighbors who can assist at the scene until you can get home. This is particularly important in order to ensure that the children are safe.
3. Assess the situation. Get all information about what happened with time, place, form and event from the babysitter as soon as possible. If the kids are old enough, ask them to explain what happened as well. Take photos of the the area where the accident took place.
4. Seek legal help. Engage the counsel of an attorney to assist with filing a claim and negotiating with the homeowner’s insurance adjustors. Dealing with these individuals is a slippery slope and often requires some background knowledge about how the process works.
It is important to note that babysitters may be classified as employees or independent contractors. Insurance coverage requirements vary from state to state. Those who are considered employees and suffer work related injuries or illness are usually eligible to receive compensation for medical bills and lost work, regardless of fault.
Otherwise, employees may have the right to sue employers for illnesses or injury. This is why it is so important for parents to understand how each babysitter is classified under the law.
When individuals are hired directly by parents as babysitters they are generally considered independent contractors. However, if an agency is handling paying the worker, contact them as soon as possible to find out how the babysitter can process a claim. This is important so that parents can minimize their damages concerning the situation.
There are special rules in place for domestic, farm and agricultural, leased or loaned and casual, seasonal or undocumented workers. For instance:
1. Casual and seasonal workers. Casual and seasonal workers could be covered by workers compensation, depending upon the state.
2. Undocumented workers. Undocumented workers in Arizona, Florida, California, Montana, New York, Nevada, Utah and Texas are expressly covered in workers’ compensation statutes. Idaho and Wyoming expressly exclude all undocumented workers, while states like Colorado leave it up to the court system to decide. In most instances, however, the workers must be classified as employees in order to qualify for benefits.
When it comes to personal safety, offense is the best defense. Above all, parents should check the house over from time to time to ensure that everything is in working order. They should also discuss what is appropriate for the babysitter to use and ensure they know how to operate any equipment required, such as household appliances.
Never assume that babysitters will automatically understand the inner workings of the household. Leave detailed lists of simple instructions and contact numbers to be used in the case of emergency. The most important thing to prevent mishaps and emergencies is to ensure that babysitters know how to proceed should they occur.
Any babysitter who is injured at the home of another person should first seek medical care. After that, seek legal counsel to find out how best to proceed to cover medical bills and lost wages if possible.
Debbie Nguyen is a graphic designer and blogger with two teen boys who sometimes babysit for neighbors. She makes sure that they know all the safety procedures in all the homes they work in. In researching, she has found that The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. assists people in New York state who have had accidents in various workplaces.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/3741411850/