If you have been accused of harming your child you need to get legal advice from experienced, specialist care solicitors urgently. Our non-accidental injury solicitors understand that if you are accused of hurting your baby or child it is the start of a nightmare and you will feel shocked, panicked and need help. At AFG LAW our care team are experienced in dealing with court proceedings involving allegations of non-accidental injury and frequently work with medical experts and leading barristers, including QC’s, to build a team around you. If you have been accused of hurting your child we will advise you, represent you and work with you to try and keep your family together.
Our large team, many of whom hold the Law Society specialist accreditation for children law, are regularly trusted with non-accidental injury cases. We are here to help you.
What is a Non-Accidental Injury?
Non-Accidental Injury, often called NAI, can be used to describe any injury a child has which is believed not to have been caused by accident. It can include head injuries, sometimes called shaken baby syndrome, broken bones, burns, bruises, fabricated or induced illnesses, including poisoning/drugging children. If a child has an injury and the examining doctor does not believe the explanation given by the caregiver of how the injury happened, or there is no explanation, hospital staff will raise the possibility of a non-accidental injury; police and children services will then become involved.
Lots of questions will be asked about the suspected non-accidental injury; the age of the alleged injury, the mechanism, the degree of force required, the likely presentation of the child when the injury happened etc. It is often the case that these questions go beyond the knowledge of a general paediatrician and specialists experts need to be instructed. The experts we frequently instruct include geneticists, paediatricians, radiologists, neuro-radiologists, neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, endocrinologists, haematologists, burns specialists but each case is different.
Our team of solicitors can draw on a wealth of experience across the team to ensure the correct questions are asked and the best experts are instructed.
What will happen if I am suspected of hurting my child?
Your child will have a full medical examination and reports will be written by all the doctors involved. The police and children’s services will be informed and your child will be allocated a social worker. If you are arrested or asked to attend a voluntary interview make sure that you have a criminal solicitor present with you. They will be able to explain the process, obtain disclosure, discuss the evidence and provide advice before the interview. The local authority might issue urgent court proceedings or the police might use their powers of protection to remove your child from you or alternatively keep them in a safe place, i.e. hospital. When the local authority starts care proceedings the evidence they have gathered will be put before the court and served on the parties and their lawyers. The court will then have to make a decision about the risk of significant harm and where the child should live whilst the court proceedings are ongoing. It is really important that you are represented during care proceedings and legal aid is available automatically for parents involved in care proceedings.
I wasn’t the only one caring for my child when they say the Non-Accidental Injury happened. What will the court do?
Medical experts may be asked to try and estimate the timeframe during which the suspected non-accidental injury occurred. If it is a wide timeframe, and during that time the child has been to their grandparents or nursery for example, the court will need to consider everyone the child has been in contact with. This is sometimes called the ‘pool of perpetrators’. People who have been around the child at the time the injury may have happened can be asked to prepare statements and become intervenors in proceedings.
Can I get legal aid?
Legal aid is automatically available for parents involved in care proceedings. It may be available to intervenors in care proceedings but you will need to pass both the means and merits test. Our solicitors can help you with this.