Incorrect diagnoses of child abuse, or non-accidental trauma, are devastating for parents and children. Often, medical determinations made by a sole child abuse physician is sufficient for bringing out first degree child abuse charges and petitions to terminate parental rights.
Consider for example, the story of one of our clients, who noticed bruising on her daughter’s ankle when she was only one month old. Instead of waiting until the following day to take her child to the pediatrician, our client called her pediatrician’s after-hours service and was advised to take the child to the hospital.
At the emergency department, an x-ray revealed that the child had a fracture. Subsequent radiology revealed approximately thirteen additional fractures, and the baby was diagnosed as being the victim of child abuse, or non-accidental trauma. There was no bruising to be seen surrounding the fractures.
That day, the child was removed from out client’s care, and shortly thereafter, was charged with first degree child abuse. The hospital claimed that the child could not have sustained the fractures in any many other than by way of inflicted injury.
Luckily, Smith Blythe was able to secure an orthopedic expert from Chicago to review the child’s medical history. After reviewing the file, the expert made it clear that it would have been all but impossible to inflict the injuries the child sustained. Experts out of Boston and Dayton, Ohio agreed and were able to explain that physical characteristics of the child made the child susceptible to sustaining fractures with normal handling.
Due to Smith Blythe’s knowledge of complex medical issues that are often confused with child abuse and ability to engage with the country’s best experts, our client was reunited with her baby and served no jail and/or prison time in connection with the State’s charge of first degree child abuse. Additionally, the client will have no criminal record based on the resolution reached with the prosecution. Even the judge at first questioned the result — how could a client get probation and no criminal record with such serious injury — however, after filing a supplemental memo regarding the circumstances of the case, he knew it was a fair and just result.
When a physician makes claims that you have intentionally injured a child, the consequences are devastating, often resulting in removal of children from the family home and first degree child abuse charges. If this happens to you or someone you know, you must contact an attorney experienced with these types of cases immediately. At Smith Blythe, we are not only happy to help, but also passionate in doing so.