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Minors and Statutes of Limitations

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.

Minors

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.

Medical Malpractice

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.

Medical Bills

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.

Wrongful Death

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.

Custodial Parent

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.

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