Child abuse is horrific. It is even more tragic when mandatory reporters fail to report suspected abuse or neglect resulting in on-going, and often escalating, abuse.
We are devoted to ensuring that mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect fulfill their reporting obligations so that investigation and intervention can take place before future abuse occurs. Children should not have to suffer abuse in the first place, let alone abuse that was preventable.
When a mandatory reporter fails to timely report suspected abuse and/or neglect and further abuse occurs, the mandatory reporter (and his or her employer) can be liable. At our firm, we seek to hold mandatory reporters and their employers fully accountable in these situations.
This blog discusses the obligations of mandatory reporters in cases of suspected child abuse, answers frequently asked questions, and explains how our firm approaches failure to report child abuse cases.
If you believe that a professional had reason to suspect child abuse or neglect and failed to report the alleged abuse or neglect, we invite you to call our office to schedule a free consultation. We can assess the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and tenaciously advocate for justice and maximum compensation for the victim’s injuries and damages.
What is the Legal Obligation to Report Child Abuse and Neglect?
In Michigan, like many states, certain professionals (often referred to as “mandatory reporters” or “mandated reporters”) are legally required to report any suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services. This includes a broad spectrum of individuals, from medical professionals to teachers. Failure to fulfill this duty can lead to severe legal consequences.
Who Is Required to Report Suspected Child Abuse Under Michigan Law?
Under the Michigan Child Protection Law, MCL 722.621 et seq., a wide array of professionals must report suspected child abuse and neglect. In Michigan, mandatory reporters include:
- Physician’s Assistants
- Nurses and other medical professionals
- Dentists and dental hygienists
- Law enforcement officers
- Clergy members
- School administrators
- Social workers
- Childcare workers
- Emergency medical care providers
- Employees in the office of the friend of the court
Why is Reporting Suspected Child Abuse So Important?
The statistics are alarming – one in seven children in the U.S. experience abuse or neglect each year, and many cases go unreported. Abuse frequently continues and escalates. Timely reporting of suspected abuse has the potential to stop the abuse and secure the child’s safety. Reporting also sets in motion necessary investigations and interventions, offering crucial support to both the child and their family.
What Are the Consequences for Medical Professionals Failing to Report Suspected Abuse?
In Michigan, failing to report suspected child abuse or neglect can lead to significant consequences. Mandated reporters who neglect their duty to report can face both civil and criminal liabilities. Civilly, they may be held liable for any damages resulting from their failure to report.
When a mandatory reporter fails to report suspected abuse or neglect resulting in further injuries to a child, we seek full compensation.
Injuries from child abuse can be substantial and lifelong. In representing an abused child, we consider not only their immediate care needs but their long-term medical, psychological, and educational needs. This is the only way to ensure that comprehensive compensation is obtained.
Criminally, not reporting suspected abuse can result in misdemeanor charges, which may include fines or even jail time, depending on the severity and circumstances of the matter. These legal repercussions underscore the seriousness of the obligation to report and the state’s commitment to protecting children.
Holding Employers Liable for Mandatory Reporting Failure
Most mandatory reporters are employees who work for organizations such as health care facilities, schools or even state government agencies. Their employers will typically bear legal liability for matters such as mandatory reporting failure. In part, it’s critical to understand that not only do mandatory reporters have a legal duty to report suspected abuse, but employers need to also reinforce such duties to these employees, and to make sure that such reporting is timely done.
Pursuing claims against the mandatory reporter and their employer may result in greater insurance liability coverage. While abuse cannot be undone, abuse victims are often at least able to secure the full financial compensation to which they are entitled.
Are Non-Economic Damages for Failure to Report Child Abuse Capped Under Michigan Law?
No. Michigan law typically imposes caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, however; in Lee v Detroit Med. Ctr., 285 Mich App 51 (2009), the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a medical professional’s failure to report child abuse and/or neglect constitutes ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence claims are not subject to the medical malpractice non-economic damage caps.
How Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace Assists with Failure to Report Child Abuse Cases?
Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace can assist in failure to report child abuse cases by conducting thorough investigations to determine whether a professional ignored signs of potential abuse or neglect. Child neglect includes the failure to provide a child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or supervision. A child who is neglected is at increased risk for physical abuse. That is why it is important to report signs of abuse or neglect. Physical abuse can include bruising, fractures, and head injuries.
With our experience, we can evaluate the merit of pursuing a legal case for failure to report abuse and neglect. Our approach involves gathering necessary information and providing clarity and answers, even in instances where a lawsuit may not be pursued.
How Long Do I Have to File a Failure to Report Child Abuse Lawsuit?
There are time limits for filing a lawsuit arising out of the failure to report. Therefore, if you are concerned that signs of child abuse or neglect were ignored by a mandated reporter, you should consult a legal professional promptly.
Schedule A Free Consultation with An Experienced Michigan Failure to Report Attorney.
If you have concerns about a situation involving child abuse or neglect, please contact us for a free consultation. We’ll discuss your case, explain how we can assist, and outline the options for seeking justice and compensation.
Child abuse and neglect are grave issues that require immediate attention and dedicated reporting. As experienced failure to report abuse attorneys, we’re committed to obtaining answers, accountability, and justice for our clients. If you believe there’s a case of failure to report abuse or neglect, don’t hesitate to reach out. We represent victims and their families on a contingency fee basis, and we advance all litigation expenses while a case is ongoing.
 MCL 722.633.