Frequently Asked Questions About Child Injury Law
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What type oflong term effects may children suffer as a result of child maltreatment?
As a child develops and grows into adolescence the effects of child maltreatment begin to manifest as poor academic performance, poor school attendance, substance abuse, promiscuity, aggression, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, suicide ideation, smoking addiction and teen pregnancy.
Child maltreatment also continues to effect adults that were abused as children. Their symptoms may include post-traumatic stress disorder, un-employment, low self-esteem, depression, suicide ideation, alcohol abuse, tobacco abuse, substance abuse, promiscuity, domestic violence, adult child abusers, unplanned pregnancy, high-risk behavior and obesity.
What if my child was injured at a children’s facility or the playground?
Defective playground equipment or improper protective devices, and negligent supervision, can all contribute to injury. If you are looking for a child injury attorney – we are here to help you. If you are in the San Francisco bay area, we will review your case and give you an idea of the process to ultimately obtain compensation for your child’s injuries. Do not hesitate to call us today 24 hours toll-free at 888-592-KIDS.
How is a claim or lawsuit actually settled on behalf of a child? And, is it possible that part of a child’s settlement be used for the benefit of the child before he or she turns 18?
Settlement of claims and lawsuits involving minors requires court approval and supervision, but it is quite normal for settlement funds to be used for the child before he or she turns 18. First, a settlement must be approved by a court. See Prob.C. Section §2504, 3500, 3600 et seq, and CCP §372. Until the court approves the settlement with a written order, a settlement is not final. Scruton v KAL (1995) An attorney for the minor will ask the court to approve the settlement, and to approve payment of attorney fees and reimbursement of the costs which were expended by the attorney in pursuing the claim or lawsuit. See CCP §372 and CRC (Probate Rules) 7.953 and 7.954 and CRC 378; Fam.C. §6602, and Prob.C. § 3601. The Court will allow attorney fees under a contingency fee agreement, as long as they are reasonable. See CRC (Probate Rules) 7.955 The adult representing the interests of the child (e.g. parent, conservator of the estate, guardian or guardian ad litem) must attend the hearing in court to approve the settlement, unless excused for good cause by the court. See CRC (Probate Rules) 7.952 If the minor is able to speak to the court, the court may ask the minor about the injuries and his or her feelings about settlement; and, in some cases, the court may require that testimony be taken from the minor's treating or examining physician. See CRC (Probate Rules) 7.952 At the end of the hearing, the court will issue a written order using the California Judicial Council form signed by the approving judge.
What types of child abuse exist and what does the child get compensated for?
There are several main types of child abuse for which the cases are most frequently filed. The abuse can physical – if a child is malnutritioned, underhydrated, is lacking supervision or shelter, hit, choked, thrown, kicked, shaken or suffers any physical act that caused or potentially endangered child’s life or health it is considered that a child has been abused. Physical abuse may also include cases when medical or mental healthcare was not provided when required, and a child suffers severe injury or death as a result of withholding healthcare. Sexual abuse is a frequent type of abuse where children get molested by adults – it is required that all types of abuse be reported. If your child has experienced any of the above it is then the time to act. A child can be compensated for his or her "general or noneconomic damages" - which includes past and future physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation and emotional distress. No fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of these damages. The jury must use its judgment to decide a reasonable amount based on the evidence and its common sense. A child can also be compensated for his or her "special or economic damages" - which includes medical and other expenses (e.g. attendant care, equipment expenses, transportation expenses, housing expenses, supervisory expenses, education expenses and many others - including respite expenses so that parents of severely injured children can take a break and be able to pay top notch professionals to care for the their child while they rejuvenate), and the lost earning capacity of a child. If the jury decides that a child has suffered damages that will continue for the rest of his or her life, it must determine how long he or she will probably live. According to published government sources, it is possible to estimate the number of years a child is expected to live. Some people live longer and others die sooner. This published information is evidence of how long a person is likely to live but is not conclusive. In deciding a child's life expectancy, a jury should also consider, among other factors, a child's health, and other pertinent factors such as habits, activities and lifestyle. The Keane Law Firm employs nationally-recognized life expectancy experts to prove this in a scientifically-acceptable manner. We have helped many families to correct the injustice caused by somebody else’s wrongdoing. Call The Keane Law Firm immediately to discover your options.
What are the signs of child abuse and what can I do about it?
Generally, any sudden changes in behavior or school performance could indicate abuse. However, these are not the only observable signs. If you notice unexplained bruising, loss of weight, observe your child to be always watchful as if a child is preparing for something to happen, if your child is too passive, quiet, withdrawn or compliant, stays late in school – then your child might be abused. If your child refuses to discuss problems with you, it is better to seek help as early as possible to make sure that your child does not incur a deep psychological and/or physical trauma and there may be more children involved. If that has happened to your child, we can help by investigating and filing a case on your behalf to ensure proper compensation to your child and that the abuser gets punished. Child abuse is not acceptable and should never be tolerated. We will devote all our efforts to your case and promise to do everything legally possible to help your child and you with such a complicated matter. After reporting suspected abuse to the proper governmental protective services agency (see a list of numbers to call in the Resources section of this website), call The Keane Law Firm as soon as possible thereafter so that we can protect the child's legal rights against the abuser, and those who were obligated to prevent the abuse.
What are foster homes?
Foster care settings include not only traditional foster family homes, but also relative foster homes (whether payments are made or not), group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities and pre-adoptive homes Foster Care homes are places for temporary placement of children outside their homes because of neglect and abuse. A child may be placed in a foster home to temporarily protect the child with the ultimate goal for a child to return home. Foster homes are obligated to secure, nurture, care and make the environment as home-like as possible. A new goal of adoption is sought in case a child is not able to safely come back home. However, sadly, many children get injured or even abused in foster homes. If you hear that a child is injured or abused while in foster care, after you report it to the appropriate child protective services agency (see the Resources section of this website for a link that will provide you contact information for child protective services), please contact The Keane Law Firm and we will do everything possible to help that child in a civil lawsuit.
How do I know if a foster child has been abused?
If you see that someone is hitting a child, if you see lacerations or bruises on a child’s body and they do not appear to have been caused by accident, if a child tells you he/she has been harmed by someone or if a child has suffered injuries which are inappropriate for his or her age (traumatic injuries when a child is too young to move on his or her own - meaning someone else must have inflicted them on the child), or is too young and was left alone – it is time for you to act. After you report the suspected abuse to the appropriate governmental agency (see the phone numbers in the Resource section of this website), we are here to help those children that need legal help and protection, and we need your input to our firm, so we can file the case and help that child. Please, call us as soon as you discover of child abuse. Call us 24 hours at 1-888 592-KIDS.
What is wrongful death of an unborn child?
Wrongful death of an unborn child cases are cases when an unborn child dies in a mother’s uterus. When an investigation reveals the factual reason for death of an unborn child, it is possible for a family to sue against those liable for such death. For example, if a child dies in a tractor-trailer accident and the truck driver is at fault for the accident then the family of an unborn child can bring a case in court against that driver and the trucking company. In such cases, the lawsuit will seek unspecified damages for burial and medical expenses along with loss of love and companionship. We handle this type of case and are ready to help your family correct the injustice for such a devastating occurrence. Call The Keane Law Firm at 1-888-592-KIDS, so we can further assist you.
Is there a deadline for my child to file a claim or lawsuit in California?
Yes, and the time limits are different depending on the type of claim or lawsuit being brought on behalf of the child. (1) State law claims of children against the State of California, and its cities or counties: Generally speaking, in order to bring a state law claim against a governmental agency, a claim must be presented within six (6) months from the "date of accrual" of the claim. See Gov. Code 911.2(a) The "date of accrual" is typically the date of injury, but may be later if the claim is based on "delayed discovery" of the claim. See Gov. Code 901. "Delayed discovery" means that the parent/guardian does not suspect or should not suspect that a wrong has been done to a child, such as when sexual molestation of a child has occurred and where the parent/guardian was unaware of the molestation. A claim against a government agency or employee which is based on "delayed discovery" involving sexual molestation of a minor where the molestation has been continuous accrues on the last date of molestation. See Ortega v Pajaro Valley Unified Sch. Dist. (1998) The "delayed discovery" rule may be applied in child molestation cases when the parent/guardian had no reason to suspect wrongdoing and the child claimant does not understand that what had happened to him was wrong. See Curtis T. County of Los Angeles (2004) (2) Federal law claims of children against the federal government: With respect to claims brought on behalf of minors against the federal (United States of America) government, for the acts of its employees, agencies or a Federally Qualified Health Center, these must be brought pursuant to a law known as the Federal Tort Claims Act. These claims must generally be brought within two (2) years from the date of the tortious act. See 28 U.S.C. 2401(b). A presuit claim (Form 95) must be submitted prior to filing the action in federal court. The Defendant is the United States of America, and not the agency, employee or Federally Qualified Health Center. (3) State law claims of children against private parties (e.g. persons and corporations): (a) For injuries suffered pre-birth and during the course of birth: An action by or on behalf of a minor for personal injuries (other than medical malpractice suits) sustained before or in the course of his or her birth must be commenced within six years after the date of birth. See CCP 340.4 (b) For medical malpractice claims: A minor's medical malpractice suit must be initiated within three (3) years of the act of malpractice, or one year after parents discovered or reasonably should have discovered the injury, unless he or she is under six (6) years old. If the child is under six (6) years of age, the lawsuit must be started within three (3) years of the act of malpractice or prior to the child's eighth (8th) birthday - whichever is the longest period of time. See CCP 340.5 (c) For general personal injury claims after birth (e.g. other than medical malpractice claims, state law government claims and federal tort claims, but including federal civil rights claims brought pursuant to 42 USC 1983): If a child is entitled to bring a lawsuit for personal injuries, or civil rights violations, the time during which the child is a minor (e.g. up until his or her 18th birthday) is not part of the time limited to start the lawsuit. See CCP 352. The general time within which all persons have to file personal injury lawsuits - which is two (2) years (See CCP 335.1) - begins to run at the eighteenth (18th) birthday of the child - meaning that it must be filed on or before his or her twentieth (20th) birthday.
When and why is lead paint in my apartment or rental home considered hazardous for my children?
The San Francisco Health Code defines a lead hazard as “Any condition that exposes children to lead from any source, including but not limited to leadcontaminated water, lead-contaminated dust (dustlead hazard), lead contaminated soil (soil-lead hazard), and paint-lead hazard in dwelling units or other locations” [Article 26, Section 1603 (w)] Lead paint in apartments or rented homes is considered hazardous because, in general, as lead paint ages, it breaks down and may chalk or flake into small lead dust particles. These lead dust particles settle on surfaces in the home and the soil, and stay in the environment forever. Lead dust is a hazard to young children because they commonly explore their world through touch and taste, and unintentionally swallow lead dust. When a child touches surfaces with lead dust particles and later places fingers in his or her mouth it can result in lead poisoning. The child's body absorbs lead, as if it were a needed mineral, like calcium or iron. Gradually the lead builds up in his or her body and causes damage. Lead is a poison that is especially harmful to young children and fetuses because of its effect on brain development. There is no safe level of lead in the body. Research studies show that any amount of lead detected in children's bodies may affect children's learning ability, attention span and growth.