* A parent breaks her wrist falling on a child care provider’s icy front steps. The parent has no health insurance and the child care provider is worried that the parent will sue her.
* A parent falsely accuses the son of a child care provider of inappropriately touching her daughter. Child care licensing notifies the child care provider that they are taking away her license. The child care provider is a single mother and can’t afford an attorney.
* A child care provider gets a letter from a lawyer notifying her that she is being sued for injuries suffered by a child in her program ten years earlier.
In all of these situations the child care provider needs advice from a lawyer, but usually can’t afford one.
Here are some suggestions for how to find low-cost legal help:
1) Get business liability insurance! Most of these insurance policies can protect you by hiring a lawyer on your behalf (at no cost to you) to defend against injury claims, licensing actions and parent lawsuits. Check out this family child care insurance directory.
2) If you are low-income your local Legal Services (also called Legal Aid) office may be able to help you or refer you to an attorney.
3) Some lawyers offer limited services pro bono (without cost) to help you sort out legal problems. Contact your local county or state bar association for referrals.
4) If you live in a city that has a law school, you may be able to get free assistance if the school sponsors law clinics.
5) LegalShield is a private company that offers legal insurance for a monthly fee. Their services include contract review, audit help, as well as civil and criminal legal defense.
A child care provider’s best initial defense against injury claims, licensing actions and parent lawsuits is having business liability insurance. I strongly urge everyone to get this insurance.
Image credit: freeclipartnow.com
For more information see my book Family Child Care Legal and Insurance Guide.