When someone is injured as a result of another party’s negligence, the injured victim has the right to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for their related losses—including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Personal injury claims, however, are subject to statutes of limitations. In Maryland, most injury claims must be filed within three years of the date of the accident. If that time passes, it’s likely the victim will no longer be able to take legal action or be eligible for compensation. In some situations, however, especially when a minor is injured, exceptions are made to lengthen the statute of limitations.
Personal Injury Claims and the Age of Majority
When a child is involved in a personal injury claim, like one for a car accident, their parent or guardian has the right to file a claim on their behalf to negotiate a settlement or seek a verdict from a judge or jury for compensation. As with most personal injury claims, compensation for medical bills, disability, and pain and suffering may be available.
To determine if a minor is involved in a personal injury claim, the age of majority has to be looked at. This is the time at which a person is considered legally an adult. While the age of majority is somewhere between 18 and 21 in most states, it is 16 or 17 in others. In Maryland, a person officially phases into adulthood legally when they turn 18.
Once a person is legally recognized as an adult, they assume control over their person, actions, and decisions. In most cases, their parents or guardians no longer have any legal control over them. In addition to having all the responsibilities that come with adulthood, a person who reaches the age of majority is granted by law the ability to sue.
The Statute of Limitations for Minors in Maryland
In most personal injury cases involving a minor who gets injured, that person has an extended period of time to file a claim for compensation. Under Maryland Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings 5-201, if an injured party is “a minor or mental incompetent, that person shall file his action within the lesser of three years or the applicable period of limitations after the date is removed.” This means that once a child turns reaches the age of majority, they have three years to file a claim.
While most personal injury claims involving a minor are subject to the exception above, this is not the case for wrongful death. Courts in Maryland have deemed the wrongful death time limit to be a condition precedent to filing a suit, rather than a statute of limitations. This means that if a minor waits longer than three years to file suit for a loved one’s death, they will not be eligible for compensation.
It’s important to note that there are other exceptions for statutes of limitations involving minors in cases of medical malpractice.
Medical Malpractice Cases
For medical malpractice claims, the statute of limitations depends on different factors, including the child’s age and what incident resulted in harm. When malpractice is committed when a minor is under the age of 11, the statute of limitations begins when they turn 11. This means that they would have until they are 14 to have a parent or guardian help them file a claim.
In the event a minor is under the age of 16 and a foreign object is left inside a minor’s body during surgery or their reproductive system is injured, the three-year statute of limitations begins to run when they turn 16.
If compensation is being sought for medical bills, the parents or guardians must file on behalf of themselves because they are legally responsible for bills associated with their child. This means that filing a claim for reimbursement of medical bills has to be brought by the parent or guardian within three years of the accident.
Learn More From Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC
If your child was injured in an accident or you were injured as a minor and are now seeking justice for what you were wrongfully put through, it’s best to work with an experienced lawyer. Personal injury claims involving minors are often complex, as different laws may apply.
In order to ensure you abide by the statute of limitations and maximize your chances of receiving full and fair compensation, schedule a free case evaluation with Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC. We’ll review your situation and help you decide how best to proceed to secure your future.