Civil Claims for Injuries from Child Abuse and Neglect in California

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

The civil case you can file for past or current child abuse and negligence.

Child Abuse and Neglect is a particularly distressing topic, mainly because children are often defenseless and highly dependent on adults. If the adults in their lives cause them harm, they likely have so little way out. If a child's parents abuse them, it's hard for them to imagine where else they'll go. If their caretaker or babysitter hurt them, it's their word versus the adult caretakers' who may be able to brush things off as a child's dramatic imagination.

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How to Spot the Signs (As an Adult making Observations)

Child abuse may also be detected by people who have regular contact with the child, such as neighbors, teachers, pediatricians, therapists, or the police. Bruises, bruises, broken bones, and burns — particularly repeated injuries that the child refuses to explain or for which the child gives an unusual explanation — are all signs of child abuse

Poor grooming, an untidy appearance, a lack of weather-appropriate clothes, excessive exhaustion or hunger, repeated illnesses, or school absences are all signs of neglect. Children who are overly withdrawn, afraid, recoil from touch, or show a desire to return home should be given special attention.

Abuse may also be detected by emotional outbursts or inappropriate babyish activity. Many of these symptoms are also indicators of sexual assault. Abnormal shame, insufficient sexual sensitivity, or sexually suggestive conduct are all signs that a child has been sexually abused.

Many of the symptoms listed may be due to something else, such as hyperactivity that leads to impulsive actions, envy or frustration at a new baby in the house, and autism spectrum disorder, marital strife in the household, a death in the family, or any number of other factors.

Here's a more simplified checklist:

(Note that these are just common red flags that parents, legal guardians, or friends have noticed in children. One symptom might account for more than one type of abuse, but it's best to look out for them when you're suspicious.)

  • Unexplained bruising

  • Bruises are explained away by either the child or perpetrator, but some of which are contradictory or missing details

  • Ligature or bite marks, pressure marks from fingers on the face, stomach, or back

  • burns that look suspicious

  • Avoiding returning home (particularly if the abuser is in the family home)

  • Escaping or living at friends' houses on a regular basis

  • Fear of the dark, aversion to going to bed, bedwetting, or nightmares is all common symptoms.

  • Stealing or lying

  • Bad self-image/self-esteem, poor academic performance, and poor peer relationships are low self-esteem signs.

  • Behavior that is secretive, demanding, or destructive.

  • Delay in progress

  • Prone to falling ill

  • A sickly or sallow look/appearance

  • Stealing or hoarding food, abnormally high appetite

  • Unkempt or unhygienic

Whatever the reasons for suspicion, it is never reasonable to presume child abuse and then do nothing about it. It is preferable to take an unnecessary risk than to see a child suffer. Even if a member of your own family perpetrated the abuse, it is still the right thing to do if you think your child has been abused and has sustained physical or psychological harm.

Who Can Be Held Liable?

Many children are advised to be wary of strangers from an early age, but the vast majority of child sex abuse cases include someone the child knew. Family members, neighbors, coaches, priests, babysitters, teachers, or someone else who has regular contact with the child may be perpetrators.

This may include the following:

  • Churches and Schools

  • Daycare centers

  • Clubs for athletes

  • America's Boy and Girl Scouts