Children are precious and vulnerable. They deserve to be adequately cared for in safe environments that are free of neglect and abuse. New Mexico created the Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) to ensure they thoroughly investigate reports of abuse and neglect, children are not living in dangerous environments, and families receive the help they need to care for their children.
But the system is far from perfect. When it comes to child safety, even seemingly minor errors can have enormous ramifications. One recently filed lawsuit against the CYFD paints the picture all too well.
The CYFD is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit after the death of a four-year-old boy. According to reports, the boy was taken to the hospital in December 2019 after witnesses found him with severe injuries in an Albuquerque apartment. Tragically, the boy didn’t survive. Prosecutors have charged a family friend with the boy’s death. Law enforcement officials believe that he beat the boy to death.
Following his death, eyes turned to the CYFD since the child and his family had extensive involvement with the Department. The child repeatedly said he didn’t feel safe in his familial home, didn’t get enough food to eat, and experienced sexual abuse. Despite all this, the State left the child in his home. Instead, workers with CYFD created a safety plan. That safety plan included disallowing the family friend from watching the child.
This case is nothing short of tragic. Yet, it’s one that we hear time and again in the Albuquerque area. Caretakers who fail to live up to their responsibilities can cause harm or death to others. Surviving family members often struggle with the realities following one of these incidences, which include the emotional turmoil and the financial ramifications brought on by medical expenses, funeral care, and, ins some instances, lost wages. These are difficult times for these families, and it can be hard to see what the future has in store for them.
These surviving families usually have many questions about what, how, and why these cases happen. Legal action can help find answers to these questions. While that can certainly help bring about a certain sense of closure, it can also provide l financial relief while at the same time securing accountability. For many of these wrongful death cases involving State agencies or businesses — like a hospital or nursing home — nothing hurts more than a blow to their reputation, public perception, and budgets.
But succeeding on a wrongful death claim like the one involving CYFD can be enormously challenging. Generally speaking, the plaintiff must show four elements before a wrongful death claim can succeed. Those elements are: that a duty of care existed; the defendant breached their duty of care; the breach of duty caused the death in question, and damages resulted from that death.
Proving these elements might sound easy enough, but many legal challenges pervade each of these elements. These challenges are why working with a skilled legal advocate is often best. They can help you gather the necessary evidence to develop legal arguments to position you for success. Perhaps then you can secure the financial resources that you need and deserve, find accountability, and give your lost loved one the voice someone else took away from them.