Can I Sue Child Protective Services in Chula Vista, CA?

The Chula Vista equivalent of Child Protective Services in Chula Vista, California, is called Chula Child Welfare Services (CWS). CWS performs a variety of extremely important and sensitive functions.

Perhaps its most important function is to protect children from abuse and neglect, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Since CWS enjoys a form of limited legal immunity from lawsuits, it is difficult but far from impossible to sue them.

Possible CWS Misconduct

Here are some examples of possible CWS misconduct upon which you might be able to base a valid personal injury claim:

  • The investigators failed to respond to credible allegations of abuse because they were overloaded with cases;
  • The investigators did not follow legal or regulatory standards;
  • The CWS child abuse hotline failed to take action;
  • Inadequate staffing;
  • Inadequate staff training;
  • Failure of investigators to communicate with each other or with law enforcement officials;
  • Failure to perform an adequate investigation;
  • Closing an abuse case too quickly; and
  • Falsifying records, especially to cover up misconduct.

There are many other types of potentially valid complaints.

Examples of Invalid Complaints 

The following types of complaints would likely fail:

  • Disagreement with CWS decisions that were within its legal authority.
  • Disagreement with CWS policies that were within its legal authority.
  • Complaints supported by insufficient evidence. False complaints motivated by a desire to gain an advantage in child custody proceedings, for example, are distressingly common.
  • A minor administrative error that did not result in significant harm.
  • Disagreement with a court decision. To challenge a court decision, you would need to adhere to the established appeal procedure, which includes many limitations.
  • A complaint about inaction over a matter that is not within the jurisdiction of the CWS (an out-of-state matter, for example).

You might not be certain whether your complaint is valid. Indeed, it’s not always obvious, as some claims are close calls. The advice of a lawyer can be helpful.

Grounds for a Lawsuit

To file a valid claim against CWS, you must allege one of the following forms of CWS misconduct:

  • Gross (extreme) negligence;
  • Malice;
  • Fraud;
  • A violation of constitutional rights; or
  • Failure to perform a mandatory duty.

In all cases, you must assert that the CWS misconduct actually caused the harm you are complaining of. Without causation and damages, you have no valid claim.

Suing the Government and the California Government Claims Act

CWS is a California state government entity. Before you can sue Chula Vista Child Welfare Services, you must file a written claim with the Risk Management Division of the County of San Diego. The time limit is short, at only six months after the incident in question (certain exceptions apply). 

If the Risk Management Division rejects your claim or ignores it for 45 days, you can file a lawsuit. A lawyer can help you draft your claim document. You can also try to negotiate your claim, which is often the best idea.

Although a minor (under 18) cannot file a lawsuit in California, the appropriate court can authorize an adult to file the lawsuit on behalf of the child.

Limited Immunity

As mentioned above, the CWS and its employees enjoy limited immunity from lawsuits. In particular, they enjoy limited immunity with respect to their “discretionary functions.” Because this immunity is limited, talk to a lawyer before you abandon your claim.

Case Precedent

Lawsuits against the CWS are governed, at least in part, by previous court cases interpreting the law (precedent). Although it is possible for a court to break with precedent, you almost certainly need a lawyer to examine your claim in light of existing law.

Constitutional and Statutory Law

Applicable law might include:

  • The federal constitution (particularly the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments);
  • The California Constitution;
  • The California Family Code;
  • The California Welfare and Institutions Code;
  • The California Code of Regulations; and
  • Case law (precedent).

This list is not exhaustive, and a lot depends on the specific facts of your case.

You’re Definitely Going To Need a Lawyer for This One

You can handle certain types of claims on your own. Nevertheless, claims against the California state government, especially concerning the CWS, require considerable legal expertise to resolve. Schedule a free initial consultation with a Chula Vista personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. 

Contact the El Paso Personal Injury Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information

If you’ve been injured in San Diego or Chula Vista, please call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer or contact us online.

We proudly serve San Diego County and throughout California.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 777-5555

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – Chula Vista Office
690 Otay Lakes Rd #130, Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 722-3032

We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – El Paso Office
201 E Main Suite 106, El Paso, Texas 79901
(915) 591-1000