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Understanding Child Abuse Claims

by | Jul 8, 2015 | Child Abuse

Many parents, care givers and guardians lack the knowledge to understand or identify child abuse coming from a day care. Florida Jury Instructions tell us that if a parent places a child in the care and custody of another, such as a day care, and that custodian was negligent in caring for and/or supervising the child there could be a credible cause of action against the day care worker and his/her employer. It is the parent or guardian’s burden to establish that the day care’s negligence was a legal cause of the child’s injury and/or death. One might assume that the day care’s negligent conduct or omissions (failure to act) caused the loss, injury or damage, but it takes a trained professional (attorney/lawyer) to establish evidence that ‘connects the dots’.

Parents and guardians should know that there is a time limit for this type of action.  According to Florida law, a four-year statute of limitation applies to almost all causes of action against an institutional defendant pertaining to negligent supervision or child sexual abuse. Causes that fall under that statute include negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and respondeat superior. Respondeat Superior is latin for “let the master answer”. As a legal doctrine, it means that an employer is responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their employment. The Florida Legislature, however, enacted two sex abuse-specific statutes of limitation. Florida Statute §95.11(7) [intentional torts based on abuse] and Florida Statute §95.11(9) [sexual battery offenses on victims under the age of sixteen]. Florida Statute §95.11(9) applies to any such action other than one which would have been time barred on or before July 1, 2010. Call an attorney to discuss your right to bring a claim against anyone you believe committed such abuse against your minor child, grandchild, niece, nephew or any other child under your care.

What is child abuse? Often, child abuse is narrowly defined as having only physical implications. In reality, child abuse includes:

● Physical abuse; unlawful corporal punishment or injury.
● General and severe neglect.
● Sexual abuse; sexual assault; exploitation
● Willful harming or endangering a child; emotional maltreatment.

Child abuse may involve both (overt) acts and omissions. Competent assessments and interventions must be considered when evaluating multiple categories of abuse. The act of inflicting injury or the failure to act so that injury results, is the basis for making the decision to intervene. A parent or caretaker may begin by inflicting minor injuries, then may increasingly cause more serious harm over a period of time. Therefore, detecting the initial small injuries and intervening with preventive action may save a child from future permanent injury or death. Physical injuries, neglect and malnutrition are more readily detectable than the subtle and less visible injuries that result from emotional maltreatment or sexual abuse. However, all categories of abuse endanger or impair a child’s physical and/or emotional health and development and demand attention.

In 2010, approximately 695,000 children were victims of maltreatment. Children in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization at 20.6 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population. More than one-half of the child victims were girls (51.2%) and 48.5 percent were boys; and nearly one-half of all victims were White (44.8%), 21.9 percent were African-American, and 21.4 percent were Hispanic.

Non-parental perpetrators account for approximately 16.0% of all perpetrators. These are caregivers who are not parents, (but may be foster parents) child care or day care staff, unmarried partners or parents, legal guardians and staff of residential facilities.

If you have other questions pertaining to abuse and neglect in the state of Florida, click here:

If you think your child has been abused, please contact Florida Department of Children and Families. You can find their contact information here:

When you call or contact Department of Children and Families, make sure you are prepared to discuss and provide specific descriptions of the incident(s) or the circumstances contributing to the risk of harm, including who was involved, what occurred, when and where it occurred, why it happened, the extent of any injuries sustained, what the victim(s) said happened, and any other pertinent information are very important.

Information callers should have ready includes:

1.  Name, date of birth (or approximate age), race, and gender, for all adults and children involved.

2.  Addresses or another means to locate the subjects of the report, including current location.

3.  Information regarding disabilities and/or limitations of the victims (especially for vulnerable adult victims).

4.  Relationship of the alleged perpetrator to the child or adult victim(s).

5. Other relevant information that would expedite an investigation, such as directions to the victim (especially in rural areas) and potential risks to the investigator, should be given to the Abuse Hotline Counselor.

If you still have questions whether your child has been abused and has a claim, contact us at Brannon & Brannon, P.A. Remember, Florida law has strict requirements about settling a minor’s claim.  Be sure to know what legal obligations are placed upon the parents or guardians of a minor at the time of settlement.




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