SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME & WRONGFUL DEATH
March 10, 2016
Shaken baby syndrome has made headlines recently, particularly as it pertains to one infant’s death and a subsequent wrongful death lawsuit filed against her nanny, who is being accused of violently handling her and bringing about the abusive head trauma (via negligent, malicious, wanton, reckless, and/or grossly negligent acts) that caused her death.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
Shaken baby syndrome—also known as abusive head trauma or inflicted traumatic brain injury—is often caused by shaking a child aggressively, dropping or throwing them, or delivering direct blows to their head. It is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases, killing infants younger than one year old (typically six to eight weeks old, when infants tend to cry more frequently). Once forcefully shaken, the infant’s brain is thrown back and forth too violently, often causing blood vessels to rupture and tearing brain tissue, even causing the brain to bruise by striking the skull. The damage can be worsened if, after being shaken, the baby is slammed against an object, as the evidence indicates in this case.
Certain sectors of the population are more at risk of being affected by shaken baby syndrome; typically children with special needs and/or boys, and those that live below the poverty level. Sources report that approximately 70 percent of the perpetrators are male.
In this particular case, the baby’s parents are filing suit in an effort to ensure that the nanny does not profit from their daughter’s death via book deals or other means. Originally, the nanny was being prosecuted for murder, until the medical examiner changed the baby’s cause of death from “homicide” to “undetermined.” Although murder was not ruled out as the cause, the lack of an official final decision by the medical examiner cast doubt on the ability to prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt. A charge of wrongful death in civil court, however, does not require proving the same standard, but simply a showing that a preponderance of evidence points to guilt.
In this particular instance, medical records–including MRI and CT scans–indicated that the baby suffered from traumatic brain injuries after being violently shaken and then being slammed against a hard surface. Her parents maintain that she was shaken violently by the nanny because she was crying, leading to brain swelling, skeletal fractures, and hemorrhaging, resulting in her death. Signs of violence, including plaster missing from the wall near the changing table, as well as blood found on nearby wipes and towels, were also present near the infant at the time of her death.
Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death cases are difficult enough when you lose a loved one. Losing an infant brings about an immeasurable amount of grief. Sometimes bringing a wrongful death lawsuit can help ensure that justice is done, even in such difficult times.
Clearwater attorney Mike Walker understands the emotional pain and suffering associated with these cases. He will fight vigorously on behalf of his clients’ needs. Contact the office today for a free consultation.