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Legal Strategies to Prevent Child Abuse

Legal Strategies to Protect Children from Abuse
When a child is suffering abuse at the hands of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver it can unfortunately sometimes be difficult to end the abuse without taking formal steps to create legal barriers between the child and the abuser. Especially in cases where the abuser is violent and potentially abusive toward the person who wishes to also protect the child, taking legal steps takes real courage. Anyone who wishes to protect a a child from an abuser in Nevada has a number of legal options.
  • Seek a protective order.
A protective order is a court-issued, legally binding document that requires the individual subject to the order (the “adverse party”) to not go to designated places, not approach designated people, or not engage in other behavior that could make the applicant for the order feel threatened or unsafe. For example, a protective order could require a person to stay a certain distance away from the home where a child lives, the child’s school, or a caregiver’s home. A protective order can be requested by someone who reasonably believes that his or her child has been the victim of a crime that is “harmful to minors,” such as sexual or physical abuse. NRS 33.400. There are a number of advantages to protective orders. A short-term (30 days) order can be requested without first notifying the abuser, giving immediate, if temporary, protection. The applicant for a protective order need only provide the court with the necessary basics to establish the necessity of a protective order. The complexity grows for a protective order that will last for a longer period. A protective order can be issued for up to one year provided that the adverse party is allowed to be present for a hearing.
  • Contact Child Protective Services.
The Nevada Division of Child and Family Services includes a special unit that responds to child abuse and neglect. Child Protective Services (CPS) invites the public to report child abuse. Based on the initial report a case worker will conduct a preliminary analysis to determine if the child’s safety is at risk and how the agency should respond. The agency also conducts investigations, including home visits and interviews to determine if the evidence substantiates the initial report. CPS has a range of options to protect the welfare of children, including removing the child from a home in some situations. Because CPS determinations can have serious consequences for children and families, their processes are subject to hearing and appeal requirements.
  • Contact the police.
In cases where abuse is severe and ongoing it can be necessary to call 911 to request police assistance. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has a specialized unit that investigates criminal child abuse.
  • Sue for damages.
An abused child often needs counseling to ensure that trauma doesn’t lead to long-term mental and physical health problems. Child abusers can be sued to recover compensation not just for the child’s medical bills, but in many cases also for pain, suffering, emotional distress, and other related damages. Whether a lawsuit is appropriate will depend on the circumstances.

Talk to an attorney about how to best respond to child abuse

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has provided caring, personalized service to clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We can help you craft a legal strategy to protect a child from abuse. For a free attorney consultation please contact us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

The Risks of Using Expired Child Car Seats

The Risks of Using Expired Child Car Seats
Child car seats are not designed to last forever. Manufacturers label each of their car seats, as well as related equipment like bases for removable bassinets, with expiration dates past which the car seat should no longer be used. Manufacturers do this for a variety of important reasons. Parents should take expiration dates seriously.

Why do car seats expire?

If a seat were to fail in an accident the potential for catastrophic injury to the child would expose the manufacturer to expensive products liability lawsuits, not to mention a loss of confidence in the marketplace. For that reason, manufacturers of car seats put their products through extensive safety testing before selling them to the public. Manufacturers also pay close attention to how their products perform in the field and will be quick to issue recalls if something isn’t working as intended. That is why registering car seats is recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and every manufacturer. There isn’t a hard and fast rule governing when a car seat has reached its expiration date. Instead, manufacturers determine expirations based on their safety testing procedures and engineering standards. There are a number of reasons why a car seat is given an expiration date:
  • Safety standards are constantly changing, and older seats may no longer be compliant.
  • Materials and safety technology are constantly getting better.
  • Wear and tear can make straps, buckles, and safety padding more prone to breaking in an accident.
  • Manufacturers do not test seats for an indefinite time and will stop evaluating expired seats for faults that might otherwise trigger a recall.

The risks of using an expired car seat

For all the reasons above, using an expired car seat places the child at greater risk of injury. A buckle that’s worn out could snap open in a collision, potentially eliminating the seat’s protections altogether. The seat’s impact foam could be brittle and cracked underneath the external padding, making it less able to absorb shocks. The possibilities are endless. In the event of an accident an expired car seat that causes injuries could limit the parents’ ability to seek damages from the manufacturer on a products liability theory. In extreme circumstances where the responsible adult knew that the seat was defective but used it anyway, there may even be liability for the person who put the child in the seat. Using a seat that isn’t expired is one way to avoid making a tragic situation worse. This advice is especially important to keep in mind when considering whether to buy or accept a used car seat from someone else. Most thrift stores don’t take used car seats because the risks are too great, but they are often available for sale or for free through channels like Facebook and Craigslist. Used car seats may have hidden defects, may have been subject to a recall, or may be past their expiration. When it comes to safety equipment, it’s always better to buy new.

GGRM is a Las Vegas car accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in auto accident and products liability cases. Contact us if you have questions about how your car seat may affect your legal rights. For a confidential, no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Reasons to Never Leave a Child Unattended in a Parked Car

Reasons to Never Leave a Child Unattended in a Parked Car
Parents are often tempted to leave their children in the car while they run a quick errand. Many parents remember their own parents doing this to them when they were kids. But our current understanding is that leaving kids in cars is dangerous. Not only is it a crime to leave kids unattended in a car, it also exposes them to a number of potential dangers.
  • Heat injuries.
Nevada’s hot weather makes cars especially dangerous places for small children. In addition to the highly publicized problem of children being killed when trapped in cars, children can suffer lasting health effects from heat stroke and sunburn. A parent who leaves a child in a hot car may face charges of child endangerment or even manslaughter.
  • Risk of mechanical injury.
Even if a car is parked where it won’t get hot in the sun, a child who is allowed to freely roam inside a car can fall or get trapped in various ways. A child who is trapped inside a car with no way to call for help could suffer injuries that are only made worse by the length of time it takes to discover them and seek medical help.
  • Exposure to predators.
A child left alone in a car becomes an easy target for someone who would seek to do them harm. With child trafficking an increasingly significant problem, it’s wise to not discount the threat of kidnapping. Infants and very small children are especially vulnerable.
  • The rights of rescuers.
If someone spots a child trapped in a parked vehicle and calls the authorities, police or other first responders are allowed to break into a car to rescue the child. They may do so without liability to the owner of the vehicle. Imagine coming out of the grocery store to find a squad of firefighters smashing your car’s windows to get to your child. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and other cases. For a free attorney consultation please contact us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Leaving Kids in Hot Cars in Nevada

Leaving Kids in Hot Cars in Nevada
It’s extremely dangerous to leave children for any significant amount of time in a hot car. Even on cloudy days the sun’s heat can rapidly raise temperatures inside a car to unsafe levels. Each year an average of 37 children die from heat-related injuries after being left in hot cars. More suffer from heat stroke and other complications, which at a young age can have lasting consequences. Because of the risks, many states, including Nevada, have adopted laws that provide for criminal penalties for responsible adults who leave children unattended in cars.

Nevada’s unattended child law

Nevada’s “hot car” law was passed in 2005. It provides for criminal penalties for people who violate the law. It applies to parents, guardians, or other people who are responsible for a child who is seven years old or younger. It is a crime to knowingly and intentionally leave such a child unsupervised in a vehicle where “conditions present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child.” It is also unlawful to leave a child under the age of eight unattended in a car if it is running or if the keys are in the ignition. The parameters of this law are in fact quite narrowly constructed. Whether someone can be criminally prosecuted for violating the law will depend on the state’s ability to prove a number of things:
  • Intent. It isn’t enough that a parent or other responsible adult accidentally leaves a child in a hot car. The decision to leave the child in the car must be knowing and intentional. This gives an otherwise liable adult a potentially strong excuse that he or she simply forgot that the child was in the car. This brand of forgetfulness is more common than one would expect.
  • Conditions were unsafe. This piece of the puzzle may be relatively straightforward: the outside temperature was over 100 degrees, the car was parked in the sun, and all the windows were rolled up. But if the car was parked under a large shade structure, perhaps the child was not particularly at risk. Note that risk involves more than just heat. Leaving a child unattended could increase chances of other kinds of injury and could expose the child to kidnappers.
  • The child was unsupervised. If the responsible adult left the child in the car but was standing a short distance away within visual contact, a crime probably wasn’t committed at least with respect to the hot car law. However, the adult who ignores the risks of the hot car may have broken other laws, such as negligent supervision or child endangerment.

Pursuing civil action

Whether or not a crime was committed, parents of a child who is injured in a hot car may wish to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death claim against other adults who were responsible at the time of the incident. If the responsible adult was violating a law at the time of the event a plaintiff will have a relatively easy road to making a successful claim. A criminal conviction creates a presumption of liability in the civil context. Why would someone wish to pursue a civil case in these cases? One reason is that criminal prosecution, even if it is successful, cannot grant the scope of damages that is available in civil trials. When a child is injured or killed a parent’s pain and suffering can be a significant component of damages, but pain and suffering is only available through a civil trial.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has prided itself on providing compassionate, personalized services to clients in personal injury cases. If your child has suffered an injury in a hot car and you would like to discuss your legal options, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.