As a parent, the idea of being accused of hurting your child is a nightmare that can become a reality. If a child suffers an injury that cannot be explained, or the explanation is considered not consistent with the injury then the parents, or others responsible for the care of the child, can be accused of causing non-accidental injury.
If such a situation arises then it is highly likely that children’s services will become involved and care proceedings may be issued to investigate the cause of the injury further and put safeguarding measures in place pending further investigation.
We have had cases where very young children suffer injuries such as fractures and present at hospital with an explanation offered as to the cause of the injury. In the event that the treating clinician forms the view that the explanation is not consistent with the injury a referral is likely to be made to both the police and children’s services.
In these types of cases we have represented clients and family members who have never had any involvement with children’s services as a family and where there are no other safeguarding concerns. These cases can be described as a “single issue” case involving the primary issue of causation of the injury.
It is vital that in these circumstances you seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer without delay.
In these circumstances, once involved we can act quickly and decisively. In some cases we have been able to make proposals to the local authority with regards to a strict supervision plan enabling the child to remain living at home with the parents alongside full-time supervision from other family members who moved into the family home whilst investigations are ongoing. If this is not possible we will ensure that alternative placement within the family are explored whilst investigations are ongoing.
Where care proceedings are issued by the local authority we are able to advise, support and represent the parents during the proceedings. We will ensure that appropriate investigations are completed including, as examples, skeletal surveys and blood tests and the instructions of experts to identify any underlying conditions that may make the child more susceptible to injury.
In certain cases, further medical evidence may be obtained by the local authority from experts of various disciplines. We have been able to apply for independent consultant paediatricians to examine the evidence and in some cases they have confirmed that the injury was consistent with the explanation initially provided.
In these circumstances, we have invited local authorities to apply to withdraw their case on the basis of the new evidence that the injury was accidental with the court ultimately granting the local authority’s applications to withdraw, and discharging the interim care orders thus enabling a family to return to their previous way of life.
In cases where the court has found that injuries were inflicted by a parent and where they maintain denial of causing the injuries we have been able to assist families and have invited the court to consider further assessment of the parents using the “Resolutions Model” which explores the possibility of returning children to their parents’ care by relying on extensive family support networks to ensure that they are not at risk in the future.
It is extremely important that you access legal advice from a specialist family lawyer at the earliest opportunity if you find yourself in this situation.
At Stephensons we have extensive experience of dealing with non-accidental injury cases and can help you understand the process and ensure that your case is thoroughly investigated without delay. We have a significant number of lawyers in the team with accreditations in this area of work in order to ensure you receive the best representation. Call our family law team on 0161 696 6193.