Frequently Asked Questions About Child Injury Law

Parents of children who have been seriously hurt because of negligence or abuse need to know their legal rights. Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about child injuries.
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  • What should my landlord be doing to make sure my child isn't lead poisoned from paint on the rental property?

    Your landlord should not delay maintenance of the paint on your property. With delayed maintenance, older lead paint will move through the chipping, peeling or cracking paint layers. Old lead paint which is improperly maintained will release lead dust particles. This is especially true of "friction points" - such as window sashes or door frames. When windows open and close, the friction causes painted surfaces to rub against each other, releasing lead dust particles if the paint is improperly maintained. Friction also occurs when doors are out of alignment. Insist that your landlord keep painted surfaces intact, and that doors are aligned properly. Also, when a landlord hires contractors to repair and renovate, or paint an older building, insist that they use safe work practices. This means that they should not be "dry-scraping" or "powersanding" without effective containment of the lead dust and clean-up. It is well-known that lead dust and debris spread inside the living space of an apartment or rental home. If you have questions or concerns about work done on your rental property, have your child tested for lead. If the test is positive, contact The Keane Law Firm immediately so that we can help your child with his or her claim against the landlord.

  • My child was lead poisoned when he was much younger, and we moved out of that property. Can we make a claim against our old landlord now - even though we have moved years ago?

    Yes. You do not have to live in the apartment or rental home where your child was lead poisoned in order to make a claim or file a lawsuit against the landlord. Likewise, it is proper to bring the claim or file a lawsuit while you or your child still live in the apartment or home. You cannot be evicted from your home because you exercise the legal rights of your child to make a claim or file a lawsuit for being lead poisoned.

  • 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.

  • 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 can one do in case of a childs wrongful death?

    We understand both the sorrow and the questions that are asked when such a devastating experience has occurred. If death has occurred by accident or as a result of someone's negligence, or even abuse, then you may bring a "wrongful death" case in court. Such negligence could be from negligent supervision at daycare, school or camp, a car crash, a burn from scalding water or an unsafe home product or chemical, improperly stored on negligently discharged firearms, swimming pools with improper supervision, or some form of child abuse or neglect. In any case, the fault is someone else’s - never the child's - and you can legally sue for the wrongdoing to correct the injustice. Call The Keane Law Firm now at 1-888-592-KIDS to discuss the case for no charge, and we will talk to you about whether and how we can help you.

  • What does California law permit the family of child who has died to recover?

    Unfortunately, the jury can't undo what the defendant has done. They can't bring the child back. All that a jury can do is send a message that something priceless was taken, and that there was tremendous value to what was destroyed. They send that message the only way they can - with a verdict for money damages. If a jury decides that a family member proves his or her claim against a negligent person or corporation for the death of a child, a jury must decide how much money will reasonably compensate the family member for the death of the child. This compensation is called 'damages.' The family member does not have to prove the exact amount of these damages. However, the jury must not speculate or guess in awarding damages. The damages claimed by the family member fall into two categories called economic damages and noneconomic damages. The jury will be asked to state the two categories of damages separately on the verdict form. A family member may claim the following economic damages: 1. The value of the financial support, if any, that the minor would have contributed to the family during either the life expectancy that minor had before his/her death or the life expectancy of the surviving family member, whichever is shorter; 2. The loss of gifts or benefits that the family member could have expected to receive from the minor child; 3. Funeral and burial expenses; and 4. The reasonable value of household services that the minor child would have provided. The jury's award of any future economic damages must be reduced to present cash value. The family member may also claim the following noneconomic damages: 1. The loss of the minor's love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support. No fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of noneconomic damages. The jury must use their judgment to decide a reasonable amount based on the evidence and their common sense. The award for noneconomic damages should not be reduced to present cash value. The jury is not permitted to include in its award any compensation for the following: 1. The family member's grief, sorrow, or mental anguish; or 2. The minor's pain and suffering. In computing these damages, the jury should deduct the present cash value of the probable costs of the minor's support and education. In deciding a person's life expectancy, the jury must consider, among other factors, that person's health, habits, activities, lifestyle, and occupation. Life expectancy tables are evidence of a person's life expectancy but are not conclusive. In computing these damages, the jury is to consider the losses suffered by all plaintiffs, meaning all surviving family members who have standing to bring a claim, and is charged by the court to return a verdict of a single amount for all plaintiffs. The judge will divide the amount among/between the plaintiffs. Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60 provides: A cause of action for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another may be asserted by any of the following persons or by the decedent's personal representative on their behalf: (a) The decedent's surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, and issue of deceased children, or, if there is no surviving issue of the decedent, the persons, including the surviving spouse or domestic partner, who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession. (b) Whether or not qualified under subdivision (a), if they were dependent on the decedent, the putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, or parents. As used in this subdivision, 'putative spouse' means the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who is found by the court to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was valid. (c) A minor, whether or not qualified under subdivision (a) or (b), if, at the time of the decedent's death, the minor resided for the previous 180 days in the decedent's household and was dependent on the decedent for one-half or more of the minor's support. (d) This section applies to any cause of action arising on or after January 1, 1993. (e) The addition of this section by Chapter 178 of the Statutes of 1992 was not intended to adversely affect the standing of any party having standing under prior law, and the standing of parties governed by that version of this section as added by Chapter 178 of the Statutes of 1992 shall be the same as specified herein as amended by Chapter 563 of the Statutes of 1996. (f) For the purpose of this section, 'domestic partner' has the meaning provided in Section 297 of the Family Code. Code of Civil Procedure section 377.61 provides: 'In an action under this article, damages may be awarded that, under all the circumstances of the case, may be just, but may not include damages recoverable under Section 377.34. The court shall determine the respective rights in an award of the persons entitled to assert the cause of action. Please feel free to contact The Keane Law Firm now to go over this law with you if you feel you have a wrongful death claim for the loss of your child, or a child in your family. Together, we will do what we can to correct the injustice done to the child.

  • What factors place children at risk for being victims of child abuse?

    There is no single factor which has been identified as the cause of child abuse. In general, there is an interaction of multiple risk factors in the environment that place children at risk to be victims of abuse. Researchers have identified abusive parents or caregivers as having risk factors such as substance abuse, low self-esteem, mental or physical disability, depression, history of abuse as a child, poor coping skills, poor impulse control, history of violent behavior or history of being raised in a group setting with no positive parental role.

    All children are potential victims of child abuse, but some factors increase the risk for a child to be abused. Children with disabilities are twice as likely to be emotionally, physically or sexually abused. Children with behavioral disorders that manifest as aggression or temper tantrums are at an increased risk to be abused. Males with mental disabilities tend to be victims of sexual assault at an older age then other children.     

  • Who must report known or suspected child abuse in California?

    The list is big - and very important for purposes of bringing a claim on behalf of an abused child against a person, corporation or governmental agency who failed to report known or suspected abuse in time to prevent further abuse or death. People who are legally required to report known or suspected abuse - also known as "mandatory reporters" - include the following: These public employees and child-related professionals are mandatory reporters: (1) Teachers, (2) Instructional Aide, (3) Teacher's Aide, (4) Teacher's Assistant employed by any public or private school, (5) Classified employee of any public school, (6) Administrative Officer or Supervisor of child welfare and attendance, (7) Certificated employee of any public or private school, (8) Administrator of public or private day camp, (9) Administrator or employee of a public or private organization, (10) Administrator or Employee of a public or private organization whose duties require direct contact and supervision of children, (11) Employee of a county office of education or the California Department of Education whose duties bring the employee into contact with children on a regular basis, (12) Licensee and Administrator or an Employee of a licensed community care or child day care facility, (13) Headstart teacher, (14) Licensing worker, (15) Licensing evaluator, (16) Public assistance worker, (17) Employee of a child care institution including but not limited to, foster parents, group home personnel and personnel of residential care facilities, (18) Social worker, (19) Probation Officer, (20) Parole officer, (21) Employee of a school district police or security department, (22) Administrator or presenter of, or a counselor in, a child abuse prevention program in any public or private school, (23) District attorney investigator, inspector or family support officer, unless the investigator, inspector or family support officer is working with an attorney appointed pursuant to Section 317 of the Welfare and Institutions Code to represent a minor, or a peace officer as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of this code, who is not otherwise described in this section, and (24) Firefighters, except for volunteer firefighters (Penal Code 11165.7) These health care personnel are mandatory reporters: (1) Physician - including pediatricians, (2) Surgeon, (3) Psychiatrist, (4) Psychologist, (5) Dentist, (6) Resident, (7) Intern, (8) Podiatrist, (9) Chiropractor, (10) Licensed nurse, (11) Dental hygienist, (12) Optometrist, (13) Counselor (marriage, family and child), (14) Licensed clinical social worker or any other person who is currently licensed under Division 2 (commencing with Section 500) of the Business and Professions Code, (15) Emergency Medical Technician I and II, (16) Paramedic, (17) a Person certified pursuant to Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code, (18) Psychological Assistant registered pursuant to Section 2913 of the Business and Professions Code, (19) Counselor trainee (marriage, family and child), as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 4980.03 of the Business and Professions Code, (20) Unlicensed marriage, family and child counselor intern registered under Section 4980.44 of the Business and Professions Code, (21) State or county public health employee who treats a minor with a venereal disease or any other sexually-transmitted condition, (22) Coroner, medical examiner or any other person who performs autopsies (P.C. 11165.7) These persons in public protection positions are mandatory reporters: (1) Any employee of any police department, (2) Any employee of any sheriff's department, (3) Any employee of any county probation department, (4) Any employee of any county welfare department, per P.C. 1165.7(a)(33) Film developers are mandatory reporters: (1) Commercial film and photographic film processors, meaning persons who develop exposed photographic film or negatives, slides or prints, or who make prints from negatives or slides, for compensation, including any employee of such a person, but does not include a person who develops film or makes prints for a public agency (P.C. 11165.7(a)(29) Commerical film and photographic print processors must report depictions of a child under 16 in an act of sexual contact (P.C. 11166(d). Clergy members are mandatory reporters: (1) Priests, (2) Minister, (3) Rabbi, (4) Similar functionary of a church, temple or recognized religious denomination or organization (P.C. 11166(c)), (5) Any custodian of records of a clergy member (specified in P.C. 11165.7(33) and 11166(3)(A), which requires that on or before January 1, 2004, a clergy member of any custodian of records for the clergy member may report to an agency specified in Section 11165.9 that the clergy member or any custodian of records for the clergy member, prior to January 1, 1997, in his or her professional capacity or within the scope of his or her employment, other than during a penintential communication, acquired knowledge or had a reasonable suspicion that a child had been the victim of sexual abuse that the clergy member or any custodian of records for the clergy member did not previously report the abuse to an agency specified in Section 11165.9. The provisions of Section 11172 shall apply to all reports made pursuant to this section. Also, unlike other mandated reporters, the custodian of records for clergy, Section 11166(3)(b) states: This paragraph shall apply even if the victim of the known or suspected abuse has reached the age of majority by the time the required report is made (i.e. the child is now an adult). These other persons are mandatory reporters, as well: (1) Child visitation monitor, meaning any person who for financial compensation acts as a monitor of a visit between a child and any other person when the monitoring of that visit has been ordered by a court of law (P.C. 11165.7(a)(30), (2) Employee or volunteer of a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program, as defined in Rule 1424 of the Rules of Court (P.C. 11165.7(a)(34), (3) Animal control officer, meaning any person employed by a city or county for the purpose of enforcing animal control laws or regulations (P.C. 11165.7(a)(31)(A), (4). If you know a child who was abused and severely injured or killed, it is possible that one or more of these mandated reporters witnessed something which they should have reported to child protective services before a severe injury or death occurred - but failed to do so. Many, if not most kids who are abused, circulate among these mandated reporters. At school. At a pediatrician's office. When a police officer responds to a domestic violence call. And the list goes on. But protective services can only help a child if they are called - and it is up to these mandated reporters to do what they are required to do. Call protective services. Sometimes one call is all it takes to prevent a baby from being shaken, or a child from being hit, or from not getting medical care which he or she needs. And, often, an overstressed parent, or one with insufficient family support or money to raise children, will be given or directed to help once a mandated reporter calls protective services. Even if you do not know right now whether a mandated reporter was involved in a child's life before severe abuse occurred, or whether a mandated reporter had reason to report known or suspected abuse, call The Keane Law Firm anyways. We will have our investigators do an investigation and uncover whether a mandated reporter was involved, and whether they should have reported known or suspected abuse. The Keane Law Firm will help you help the abused child with his or her claim or lawsuit against a mandated reporter who fails to do what the law requires them to do. Do you part to help the child. They can't call. You can. So won't you please call or e-mail us now? It won't cost you anything, and it may provide needed money for a severely abused child's future care.