The 32-year-old defendant was arrested in June on charges of intentional abuse of a child inflicting serious injury, negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury, assault on a child under 12 and misdemeanor child abuse charges. According to her arrest warrant, defendant slid the child across the floor of the day care center and then held him while instructing another child to hit him repeatedly.
Authorities say the young boy was covered in scratches and bruises across his body, including on his torso and arm, as a result of the attack.
Two months after the woman was arrested, plaintiffs – parents of the child – filed a civil lawsuit against both the worker and the day care center.
Those who commit crimes against others resulting in injury may also be held liable in civil court as well. It does not count as “double jeopardy,” because civil and criminal proceedings are wholly separate and have differing goals. While the criminal court seeks to punish the offender for wrongdoing, the civil court system seeks to make whole the victims.
But a key question to ask in these types of personal injury lawsuits is whether the person who committed the crime will have the ability to pay out any judgment rendered against him or her. Usually, as individuals, they do not. Further, most insurance companies will not indemnify their insureds for intentional acts of violence. That means injured parties may need to identify other viable defendants.
For example in this case, a day care center would be vicariously liable for child injury caused by the actions of an employee who committed abuse on the job. The center might also be directly liable for failing to properly background check, train or supervise the employee.
In this case, plaintiff parents allege the daycare center was aware of problems with this particular worker, as they had complained about other incidents regarding her interactions with their child in the past. However, daycare center reportedly did nothing to address these issues and continued to keep her on staff.
As the civil and criminal cases are proceeding concurrently, defendant was asked to testify during a deposition in civil court regarding the case. However, she has invoked her Fifth Amendment right to protection against self-incrimination, and refuses to testify until the criminal charges against her are resolved. Plaintiff’s lawyer said he was told by defendant’s attorneys that she couldn’t participate in the deposition due to the criminal ramifications. However, plaintiff’s lawyer is countering that defendant waived her Fifth Amendment right when she filed an answer to the lawsuit in September. She did so before she had retained legal counsel. Civil court judge has yet to rule on the dispute.
It’s worth noting that the burden of proof is heavier in criminal cases than in civil cases. That means that even if a defendant is found not guilty in criminal court, he or she could still be found liable in civil court.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Former day care teacher invokes Fifth Amendment in lawsuit over allegations of child abuse; faces criminal charges, Dec. 3, 2015, By Michael Hewlett, Winston-Salem Journal
More Blog Entries:
Federal Regulators Push to Protect Children From Window Blind Cords, Nov. 19, 2015, Winston-Salem Child Injury Attorney Blog