Frequently Asked Questions About Child Injury Law
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What if abuse occurred in the past - does a mandated reporter still have to report it?
Yes, according to the Department of Social Services Office of Child Abuse Prevention. There is no time limitation regarding the reporting of child abuse. If a victim is under age 18, the abuse must be reported.
At what age is a child most at risk of abuse?
According to the Department of Social Services Office of Child Abuse Prevention, while all children are at risk of abuse, infants and toddlers are most likely to sustain serious injuries due to their fragility. The mortality rate is highest for children 0-2. If you know a child who has been abused, servely injured or killed, please call The Keane Law Firm so we can help you correct that injustice.
If a child is injured in a car crash as a result of the negligence of his or her family member (such as a mom or dad), can a claim be brought on his or her behalf? How is that done?
Yes, a minor child may maintain an action for negligence against his parent. See Gibson v. Gibson (1971) The claim can be brought on the child's behalf by the other parent, a guardian, conservator of the child's estate or a guardian ad litem appointed by the court. See CCP 372 -376.
Can a foster child sue for injuries suffered while in foster care in California?
Yes. In California, there is a Foster Family Home and Small Family Home Insurance Fund which will pay for claims by foster children and their parents for injuries which arise in foster care. See Health & Saf.C. §1527.1 But the child will need you to make the first call - because they can't speak for themselves, and the foster care home is unlikely to act on behalf of the child for fear of getting into trouble with licensing authorities. Contact The Keane Law Firm now to assist the child in making a claim against the insurance fund. Kids in foster care have it tough enough, without being injured while in foser care. We owe it to them to protect their rights and help keep them safe. Please do your part and call us now, and then we'll do ours.
Do I need to be related to an abused or injured foster child in order to bring a claim on their behalf?
No, any interested party (relative of some degree - grandparent, aunt/uncle, cousin, brother, sister, family friend or some other responsible adult who has a connection to the child) may petition the court to be appointed the "guardian ad litem" for purposes of bringing a lawsuit or making a claim on the child's behalf. Conact The Keane Law Firm today, so we can discuss this with you. There is no charge to call or e-mail our firm to discuss the potential case. We would like to speak with you if you believe an injured or abused child needs legal representation.
Do I need to be the mother or father of an injured child in order to bring a claim on their behalf?
No, any interested party (for example, relative of some degree - grandparent, aunt/uncle, cousin, brother, sister, family friend or some other responsible adult who has a connection to the child) may petition the court to be appointed the "guardian ad litem" for purposes of bringing a lawsuit or making a claim on the child's behalf. Conact The Keane Law Firm today, so we can discuss this with you. There is no charge to call or e-mail our firm to discuss the potential case, and how you can help the child. We would like to speak with you if you believe an injured or abused child needs legal representation.
What's the point in bringing a wrongful death lawsuit when a child dies - you can't bring back the child?
It is very important to do your part to correct any injustice that was done to your child, or a child you know. You cannot and should not stand by and let someone who has caused a wrongful death escape responsibility. Sometimes, a death occurs through negligence and the negligent person does the honorable thing and admits their mistake and accepts responsibility for their actions. The Keane Law Firm handles cases like that, and they are often settled to our clients' satisfaction because of our extensive experience in handling these claims and lawsuits. When someone or some corporation refuses to accept their responsibility for causing the death of a child, however, you need to make them accept responsibility. If you won't stand up for your child, then who will. We will help you do that because that's what we do - everyday. But we need you to call or e-mail. So please call The Keane Law Firm now at no cost to discuss how the child you loved died, and we will talk about whether we can help you correct the injustice done to that child.
Are children with disabilities that reside in institutions at risk for being victims of child abuse?
There are societal factors that increase the risk for a child with disabilities to be a victim of child abuse. Whether the disabled child resides in a group home setting, or a long term care facility, environmental and cultural values within these institutional settings are influenced by the caregivers. Not all caregivers are ethical or emotionally well adjusted. Therefore, in group residential centers there may be intentional, or non-intentional, abusive activity taking place. Not all caregivers care for residents in an appropriate manner. Children in these settings are not provided the same educational and social experiences as children that live with families. For instance, group home administrators do not provide information about sex and sexual abuse to children with disabilities. And therefore, the disabled child may not identify inappropriate sexual activity or abuse within the residential setting. Disabled children that cannot manage their own behavior may not identify when caregivers exert inappropriate control during child/caregiver interaction. Because group home administrators may not provide information about emotional abuse to the residents, emotional abuse often goes unrecognized because of the lack of information provided. Also, disabled children may not perceive pain the same way non-disabled people do, and therefore do not report inappropriate physical disciplinary activity implemented by caregivers. Research performed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s on the topic of child abuse within institutions, uncovered a rather large problem of abuse within the long-term institutions were children with disabilities live. In part, these findings were the catalyst behind de-institutionalizing people with disabilities in the 1980s.
Are children with disabilities that reside at home at greater risk to be victims of abuse?
The risk factors for abuse are the same for children with and without disabilities. The risk for abuse is greater for the child that has disabilities. Most parents and caregivers that care for children with disabilities do not respond in an abusive manner while meeting the needs of their child. Care giver strain, familial tendencies and low self esteem of the child factor prominently in abusive family and caregiver dynamics. There is increased stress associated with assisting a disabled child with bathing, dressing, feeding and seeking medical care. When stress is experienced by a caregiver or parent that is prone to maltreatment of a disabled child, the disabled child may become a victim. Some disabled children require diligent care not limited to meeting the child’s physical needs. Many disabled children require constant supervision for their emotional and social disabilities. The disabled child may have disagreeable behavioral features that provide a challenge to caregivers, like temper tantrums or aggression. And not all parents and caregivers have had adequate preparation to deal with their disabled child’s unique features. If parental expectations are not realistic, that becomes a risk factor for abuse. Stressed parents that feel isolated, unsupported and overwhelmed may be prone to maltreating their disabled child. Maltreatment comes in the form of physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and neglectful care. If caregivers or parents are ill-equipped or unsupported in their role, the child is more likely to receive neglectful treatment both intentionally and non-intentionally.
Are children with disabilities more inclined to endure abusive behavior from their caregivers or parents?
Yes, children with disabilities may be afraid to lose the relationship with their caregiver. The disabled child relies on the relationship to meet his/her needs on a daily basis. And the child has developed a sense of security with the routine developed with the caregiver. Some disabled children are willing to endure a caregiver or parent’s abusive behavior. The disable child is emotionally dependent on the relationship. And in many cases the abuser tells the disabled child that it would be a mistake to end the caregiver-child relationship, because the abuser convinces the child that the child would not do well without the abuser. Disabled children believe the loss of the caregiver would be a threat to their own well being. Because of a lifetime of relying on care from others, a disabled child may not have a well-defined perception of autonomy and may be overly compliant with the aberrant behavior of an abusive parent or caregiver. A disabled child may not identify the behavior as abusive or may not be willing to report physical abuse. The disabled child may even deny that abuse occurred out of fear of retribution and fear of loss. The caregiver or parent may believe that the child cannot express or convey reports of the abuse and continue with the abuse, thinking no one will find out. Often times the disabled child cannot escape an abusive situation as it is unfolding. Typically abused children develop methods of coping through the abusive episodes. Adaptive behaviors on the part of the disabled child are often seen in these cases, where the abused child will mask expression of true feelings about a subject, to avoid causing the caregiver or parent to escalate or become angry. According to some experts, females with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be assaulted and raped then females without disabilities, regardless of age. Children with disabilities are twice as likely to be raped or sexually abused. In fact, of all children that are abused approximately 15-17% has a disability. Young males with mental disabilities are more likely to be victims of sexual assault at an older age than males with out mental disabilities.