What is non-accidental injury?
You may have heard of the term “non-accidental injury” in relation to a child. You may be unclear exactly what this means. Essentially, it is a catch-all phrase for every injury that is not considered to be an accident.
Injuries which are typically considered to be “non-accidental” are:
- suspicious bruises
- bite marks
What is a child protection medical?
If there are concerns about the injuries your child has, you may have been asked for your consent for your child to have a child protection medical evaluation.
A child protection medical evaluation is undertaken when there are safeguarding concerns raised about injuries your child has. It involves a full health check of your child, noting any marks or injuries. Blood tests and x-rays may also need to be done. A pediatrician will discuss this with you and prepare a child protection medical report. The report will give an opinion whether the injuries are non-accidental or not.
What happens if social services become involved?
The Local Authority (social services) may become involved at this point and carry out their own investigations. You may be told to speak to a solicitor if the injuries are considered to be non-accidental. The Local Authority may decide to issue court proceedings, known as care proceedings.
You may be asked to sign an agreement called “section 20 agreement” to agree to your child being placed in foster care or in another family member’s care temporarily. This is not something you have to agree to and it is important you do not sign or agree to section 20 until you have spoken to a solicitor about this.
Facing allegations that you have possibly inflicted injuries to your child is very stressful for parents. The court process often lasts 6 months or longer and the court will need to decide during this process how the injuries were caused and if they are accidental or non-accidental. In making this decision, the court will consider everything including the medical evidence, and the explanations provided by the family.
Non-accidental injuries in children may not lead to court proceedings and could result in important meetings with social services/social care. You may be asked to attend a PLO meeting (public law outline) meeting. This is a meeting that is arranged where social services/social care are very concerned but they want to work with you to avoid court proceedings. This is a meeting where you will need a solicitor and if you are a parent, you will be entitled to legal aid funding.
Where to get legal help and representation?
If your child has suffered injuries and they are considered to be non-accidental, it is important you seek legal advice immediately. You need to look for a solicitor that is experienced in Children Law (not just Family Law).
Legal Aid is available for all parents involved in care proceedings.
If you are the parent of a child subject to care proceedings, you have the legal right to free representation. Our highly experienced Children Legal Team, work closely with many local authorities in the East Midlands such as Nottingham County Council, Derby County Council and Derbyshire Country Council. We can guide you through each step of the way to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.
If you would like to book a free initial consultation please ring 01623 665 050 or complete the enquiry form below.Request a Callback
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