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Lawsuits for Shaken Baby Syndrome
Tuesday, August 29, 2023

When a baby is forcefully shaken and the brain moves back and forth inside the skull, shaken baby syndrome, also known as abuse head trauma, occurs. It causes bruising, swelling, and bleeding and can result in permanent and disabling brain damage for the baby. 

There are 1,300 cases of abusive head trauma reported evert year. Approximately 25% of the infant victims die from this head trauma annually. Crying is the number one trigger for shaking a baby. Parents, caregivers, babysitters, and others may shake infants to stop them from crying, but they often do not realize the potential serious and permanent injuries caused by their actions.

Babies have weak neck muscles and a fragile brain which makes shaking them dangerous. Their brains are in the process of developing and are more prone to injury than adult brains.

Consequences can be catastrophic and long-lasting throughout childhood and the rest of their lives. How long they are shaken does not matter either, as a baby shaken for a few seconds could have the same injury as a baby shaken for three minutes.

Shaken baby syndrome is preventable by knowing tips on how to prevent it. Some tips include:

  • Never shaking a baby or young child
  • Knowing which actions may harm a baby like spinning, bouncing, or failing to support a baby’s head when holding or playing with them
  • Making sure a caregiver or babysitter is responsible before hiring
  • Making sure anyone holding your child is aware not to shake the baby
  • Knowing what to do if a baby in your care continues to cry.

A trained medical provider may suspect shaken baby syndrome based upon specific findings during a medical examination, including bleeding in the eye, bruising on the body, concussion symptoms and more.

Often, those who shook a baby will be subject to criminal prosecution. These charges may result in incarceration and other criminal penalties imposed by the court.

Additionally, civil lawsuits may be filed on behalf of the children. Defendants include medical providers, hospitals, police agencies, and social welfare agencies, often resulting in significant settlements and jury verdicts.

The lawsuits claim that these people had a legal duty to report evidence of abuse to proper authorities under state-mandated reporting requirements. The cases will allege the baby
suffered additional shaking and brain damage because they were returned to the abuser even after symptoms were observable by the defendants, proving for more monetary compensation.

Payouts for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and permanent disability caused by the abuse are common in these settlements. Many of these injured babies will require lifetime specialized medical care, special education, and modified housing in the future to accommodate their disabilities. It is necessary to have an itemization for future medical expenses, housing costs, caretaker expenses, and other damages to support the lifelong expense of the child. This can typically be provided by a certified life care planner.

It is imperative to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney for a shaken baby syndrome case. The attorney will obtain medical records, take depositions, and retain expert witnesses to support the case to guarantee the best legal outcome for the child.

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