Top things to know when filing a California child abuse lawsuit for failure to report child abuse

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer

In California, when a child is abused, you as a parent will obviously want to correct the injustice by making sure the child abuser goes to jail and you may also want to hold them responsible in civil court, too, for money damages.  Money is an important thing - not only to compensate for medical, therapy and other needs an abused child may have - but it also a symbol of our society of value.  While imperfect, it serves as a symbol to the child that she or he is valuable, and that was taken from them was valuable. 

While it is possible that a child abuser may have money, or other assets (i.e. a home in California) that could be used to pay for a verdict or settlement in a civil case, that is not often the case - and sometimes what they do have is not enough to pay for the damage they caused.  More importantly, oftentimes there are third (3rd) parties who are responsible for protecting children from abuse and who can and should be responsible for their role in failing to prevent the child abuse.

The California Child Abuse and Neglect Act (CANRA) which is a set of laws enacted in 1980, can be found between California Penal Code sections 11164 through 11174.3.  There are a list of persons whose jobs require them to interact with children, who are called mandated reporters, and that list is found at 11165.7.  

The list of mandated reporters continues to grow as the legislature adds more specific types of jobs, usually driven by stories of abuse that get media attention, and includes the following:

11165.7.  (a) As used in this article, "mandated reporter" is
defined as any of the following:
   (1) A teacher.
   (2) An instructional aide.
   (3) A teacher's aide or teacher's assistant employed by a public
or private school.
   (4) A classified employee of a public school.
   (5) An administrative officer or supervisor of child welfare and
attendance, or a certificated pupil personnel employee of a public or
private school.
   (6) An administrator of a public or private day camp.
   (7) An administrator or employee of a public or private youth
center, youth recreation program, or youth organization.
   (8) An administrator or employee of a public or private
organization whose duties require direct contact and supervision of
children.
   (9) An employee of a county office of education or the State
Department of Education whose duties bring the employee into contact
with children on a regular basis.
   (10) A licensee, an administrator, or an employee of a licensed
community care or child day care facility.
   (11) A Head Start program teacher.
   (12) A licensing worker or licensing evaluator employed by a
licensing agency, as defined in Section 11165.11.
   (13) A public assistance worker.
   (14) An employee of a child care institution, including, but not
limited to, foster parents, group home personnel, and personnel of
residential care facilities.
   (15) A social worker, probation officer, or parole officer.
   (16) An employee of a school district police or security
department.
   (17) A person who is an administrator or presenter of, or a
counselor in, a child abuse prevention program in a public or private
school.
   (18) A district attorney investigator, inspector, or local child
support agency caseworker, unless the investigator, inspector, or
caseworker is working with an attorney appointed pursuant to Section
317 of the Welfare and Institutions Code to represent a minor.
   (19) A peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with
Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, who is not otherwise described in
this section.
   (20) A firefighter, except for volunteer firefighters.
   (21) A physician and surgeon, psychiatrist, psychologist, dentist,
resident, intern, podiatrist, chiropractor, licensed nurse, dental
hygienist, optometrist, marriage and family therapist, clinical
social worker, professional clinical counselor, or any other person
who is currently licensed under Division 2 (commencing with Section
500) of the Business and Professions Code.
   (22) An emergency medical technician I or II, paramedic, or other
person certified pursuant to Division 2.5 (commencing with Section
1797) of the Health and Safety Code.
   (23) A psychological assistant registered pursuant to Section 2913
of the Business and Professions Code.
   (24) A marriage and family therapist trainee, as defined in
subdivision (c) of Section 4980.03 of the Business and Professions
Code.
   (25) An unlicensed marriage and family therapist intern registered
under Section 4980.44 of the Business and Professions Code.
   (26) A state or county public health employee who treats a minor
for venereal disease or any other condition.
   (27) A coroner.
   (28) A medical examiner or other person who performs autopsies.
   (29) A commercial film and photographic print or image processor
as specified in subdivision (e) of Section 11166. As used in this
article, "commercial film and photographic print or image processor"
means a person who develops exposed photographic film into negatives,
slides, or prints, or who makes prints from negatives or slides, or
who prepares, publishes, produces, develops, duplicates, or prints
any representation of information, data, or an image, including, but
not limited to, any film, filmstrip, photograph, negative, slide,
photocopy, videotape, video laser disc, computer hardware, computer
software, computer floppy disk, data storage medium, CD-ROM,
computer-generated equipment, or computer-generated image, for
compensation. The term includes any employee of that person; it does
not include a person who develops film or makes prints or images for
a public agency.
   (30) A child visitation monitor. As used in this article, "child
visitation monitor" means a person who, for financial compensation,
acts as a monitor of a visit between a child and another person when
the monitoring of that visit has been ordered by a court of law.
   (31) An animal control officer or humane society officer. For the
purposes of this article, the following terms have the following
meanings:
   (A) "Animal control officer" means a person employed by a city,
county, or city and county for the purpose of enforcing animal
control laws or regulations.
   (B) "Humane society officer" means a person appointed or employed
by a public or private entity as a humane officer who is qualified
pursuant to Section 14502 or 14503 of the Corporations Code.
   (32) A clergy member, as specified in subdivision (d) of Section
11166. As used in this article, "clergy member" means a priest,
minister, rabbi, religious practitioner, or similar functionary of a
church, temple, or recognized denomination or organization.
   (33) Any custodian of records of a clergy member, as specified in
this section and subdivision (d) of Section 11166.
   (34) An employee of any police department, county sheriff's
department, county probation department, or county welfare
department.
   (35) An employee or volunteer of a Court Appointed Special
Advocate program, as defined in Rule 5.655 of the California Rules of
Court.
   (36) A custodial officer, as defined in Section 831.5.
   (37) A person providing services to a minor child under Section
12300 or 12300.1 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
   (38) An alcohol and drug counselor. As used in this article, an
"alcohol and drug counselor" is a person providing counseling,
therapy, or other clinical services for a state licensed or certified
drug, alcohol, or drug and alcohol treatment program. However,
alcohol or drug abuse, or both alcohol and drug abuse, is not, in and
of itself, a sufficient basis for reporting child abuse or neglect.
   (39) A clinical counselor trainee, as defined in subdivision (g)
of Section 4999.12 of the Business and Professions Code.
   (40) A clinical counselor intern registered under Section 4999.42
of the Business and Professions Code.
   (41) An employee or administrator of a public or private
postsecondary institution, whose duties bring the administrator or
employee into contact with children on a regular basis, or who
supervises those whose duties bring the administrator or employee
into contact with children on a regular basis, as to child abuse or
neglect occurring on that institution's premises or at an official
activity of, or program conducted by, the institution. Nothing in
this paragraph shall be construed as altering the lawyer-client
privilege as set forth in Article 3 (commencing with Section 950) of
Chapter 4 of Division 8 of the Evidence Code.
   (42) An athletic coach, athletic administrator, or athletic
director employed by any public or private school that provides any
combination of instruction for kindergarten, or grades 1 to 12,
inclusive.
   (43) (A) A commercial computer technician as specified in
subdivision (e) of Section 11166. As used in this article,
"commercial computer technician" means a person who works for a
company that is in the business of repairing, installing, or
otherwise servicing a computer or computer component, including, but
not limited to, a computer part, device, memory storage or recording
mechanism, auxiliary storage recording or memory capacity, or any
other material relating to the operation and maintenance of a
computer or computer network system, for a fee. An employer who
provides an electronic communications service or a remote computing
service to the public shall be deemed to comply with this article if
that employer complies with Section 2258A of Title 18 of the United
States Code.
   (B) An employer of a commercial computer technician may implement
internal procedures for facilitating reporting consistent with this
article. These procedures may direct employees who are mandated
reporters under this paragraph to report materials described in
subdivision (e) of Section 11166 to an employee who is designated by
the employer to receive the reports. An employee who is designated to
receive reports under this subparagraph shall be a commercial
computer technician for purposes of this article. A commercial
computer technician who makes a report to the designated employee
pursuant to this subparagraph shall be deemed to have complied with
the requirements of this article and shall be subject to the
protections afforded to mandated reporters, including, but not
limited to, those protections afforded by Section 11172.
   (44) Any athletic coach, including, but not limited to, an
assistant coach or a graduate assistant involved in coaching, at
public or private postsecondary institutions.
 

Each of these categories of professionals is required to report when they know or reasonably suspect that a child has been abused.  That requirement is found in Penal Code 11166(a).  A mandated reporter who fails to report child abuse can be held criminally responsible for the child abuse and go to jail, as well as be found responsible for money damages in court.  If your child was being abused over a period of time, and you think someone on that list knew about it and failed to report it, then your child may have legal rights to enforce against the mandated reporter.  TIME LIMITS TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS IN SOME CASES CAN BE VERY SHORT, THOUGH, IN CASES OF PHYSICAL ABUSE IN CALIFORNIA (6 MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF THE INJURY IF IT INVOLVES A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE) SO CONTACT A CALIFORNIA CHILD ABUSE ATTORNEY NOW.

If you know a child who has been abused in California, and you want a California child abuse lawyer to answer your questions about whether that child has the legal grounds to file a California child abuse lawsuit against the California child abuser or California mandated reporter, contact the Keane Law Firm now.  The contact is FREE and it may be the best call you can make for your child to help them start reclaiming their life.