Children are often unable to protect themselves, so Maryland law includes
provisions protecting minors. When they are victims of accidents caused
by another’s negligence or recklessness, minors may file
personal injury suits to recover compensation for their injuries. Depending on the type of injury
suffered, Maryland law gives minors more time to file a lawsuit than an
adult would have for the same type of injury.
Maryland Statutes of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a case. For most Maryland
personal injury cases, the
statute of limitations is three years. This means that if the victim does not file suit before
three years after the accident occurred, the claim is barred and a lawsuit
will no longer be possible.
There are certain exceptions to the general rule, however. If the victim
is suing a governmental entity, the statute of limitations is even shorter,
as the victim must give advance notice of the commencement of any lawsuit
against the state, municipal, or federal government. For medical malpractice
cases, the statute of limitations is either five years after the act or
omission that gave rise to the injury, or three years after the discovery
of the injury, whichever is shorter.
When the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations does not expire
until three years, or any other applicable statute of limitations, after
the child reaches the age of majority. Thus, for most personal injury
cases, a person can file a lawsuit based on a childhood accident before
his or her 21st birthday.
For medical malpractice claims, the rules are different. When the malpractice
is committed when the minor is under age 11, the statute of limitations
begins to run when the minor turns 11. Thus, the child could file suit
up until either the date when he or she reached age 16, or three years
after discovering the injury, whichever is sooner. For malpractice involving
foreign objects left inside a minor’s body, or for injuries to the
reproductive system of a child under age 16, the statute of limitations
begins to run when minor turns 16.
Claims for compensation for medical expenses generally belong to an injured
minor’s parents or guardians, as they are responsible for paying
these expenses. Thus, any claim for the reimbursement of medical costs
must be brought within the statute of limitations for the parent or guardian
responsible for paying the bills. This will generally be within three
years of the accident. In some specific circumstances, though, the minor
child can recover these expenses in his or her own lawsuit.
The statute of limitations in a
wrongful death suit is strictly three years, without exceptions for minors. This is because
courts have deemed the wrongful death time limit to be a condition precedent
to filing the suit, rather than a statute of limitations. Thus, if a minor
waits more than three years after a loved one’s death before filing
suit, the time limit passes and the claim will be barred.
If one parent has sole custody of an injured minor, he or she has the exclusive
right to sue on the minor’s behalf for one year after the incident.
If the parent fails to file suit in that time, the noncustodial parent
or another adult can pursue the case on the child’s behalf, in the
capacity of the child’s next friend.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
If your child has been injured in an accident, you need a dedicated personal
injury attorney to defend his or her interests. Please call the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a free initial consultation.