A fracture is partial or complete break in the bone. Babies’ bones are weak and as a result they can be fractured much more easily than bones in adults.
It is often hard to tell whether a baby has sustained a fracture as babies are unable to communicate their symptoms to the relevant adults. Babies’ fractures are diagnosed through X-rays, MRI scans or CT scans.
An orthopaedic surgeon or radiologist may be the first to suspect abuse following the injuries.
Although unintentional fractures are much more common than fractures caused by child abuse, the physician needs to remain aware of the possibility of inflicted injury.
Orthopaedic surgeons have unique training and experience in diagnosis of fractures, both accidental and non-accidental.
If the orthopaedic surgeon has concerns that the baby’s injuries may be as a result of neglect or abuse then it may lead to the initiation of appropriate child protection procedures.
The Local Authority Children Services will then become involved. They will carry out their own preliminary investigatory procedures. If the Local Authority is of the view that the child is at risk of harm from their parents then they may decide to issue Court Proceedings.
Court proceedings are stressful and often very upsetting for the parents. They usually take up to 6 months before a decision will be made about the child and who should continue to care for him/her.
The Court will look at all of the evidence which is available and will try to get to the bottom of how the injuries were sustained, whether that is accidental or non-accidental. The court will look into the timing of the injury and how much force was needed to inflict it. Although rare, some conditions can mimic signs of child abuse, for example: brittle bone (osteogenesis imperfecta), vitamin D deficiency (Rickets), bleeding disorders which can lead to easy bruising, etc.
Medical experts are often instructed to produce reports for the purpose of the court which determine the most likely explanation of how the injuries were caused.
Legal Aid is available for parents of a child subject to care proceedings so the cost of instructing legal representation will be publically funded. In other words, the parents will not have to worry about paying legal fees.
We are a firm with extensive expertise in children matters and in particular care proceedings, whether that be as a result of non-accidental injury or otherwise. If you are the parent of a child subject to care proceedings, we can work with you each step of the way to achieve the best possible outcome for your child.
Call our child law solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or complete our online contact form and we will get in touch with you.