Maryland provides a somewhat unique statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim after a minor is injured due to negligence. According to the law — MD Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-201 (a)i — a lawsuit for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering for injuries to a minor caused by negligence must be filed within 3 years of the minor turning 18. Even if a child is hurt when they are only 5, for example, they and the parents could wait to file a claim until that same child is about to turn 21.
However, a parent’s claim to recover medical bills that they paid in relation to the child’s injuries must be brought within 3 years of the date of the accident. This includes paid medical bills, as well as future medical bills needed prior to the minor turning 18. Maryland law — MD Code § 5-203 (b)(1)ii of the Family Law Article — states that parents are responsible for their minor child’s care. This has been interpreted to include medical bills, and, consequently, the parents are entitled to make the claim for the medical bills against the liable party. With this caveat in mind, it is highly suggested that parents take legal action within 3 years of their child being injured by a third party’s negligence, regardless of the longer statute of limitations for noneconomic damages.
When a Minor Can File a Claim in Maryland
If the minor’s parents are unwilling or unable to pay the medical bills and the minor is responsible for them, then the minor can claim the medical expenses on their own behalf. The claim for medical expenses incurred after the minor turns 18 belongs to that minor. In other words, at the point of legal adulthood or the age of majority in Maryland, any future or continuing medical costs related to an injury a person suffered as a minor can become their responsibility, including up to gaining the right to file an injury claim or lawsuit in pursuit of associated damages.
This shifting of responsibility can come up in legal contests more often than many might expect. For example, imagine an incident in which a high school student with a new driver’s permit or license gets into an auto accident shortly before their 18th birthday. At the time of the crash, the medical bills are the full responsibility of that teenager’s parents. But within a few weeks, months, or maybe even a full year, the teenager turns 18, and there is a new opportunity for them to seek damages for themselves, rather than relying on someone else to represent them.
Getting Legal Help Much Sooner Than Later
If your child has been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, then you should contact a law firm with experience handling lawsuits involving injuries to minors. Different states have different statutes of limitations for bringing personal injury claims, so you should not wait long to contact an attorney in your area. Otherwise, the statute of limitations for your child’s claim could expire, and you will not have a chance to obtain fair compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.
Due to the complexity of personal injury claims, including the statute of limitations discussed above, you should never wait until you are even remotely close to the statute of limitations to take action. If your lawsuit is not filed prior to the statute of limitations, it will be forever barred, and you will never be able to receive compensation for your injuries, no matter how clear liability for your child’s injuries might be.
If you live in Laurel, Maryland, you can rely on McGowan & Cecil, LLC for prompt, responsive, and effective legal services after your child has been hurt by someone else’s negligence. Our law firm is backed by 100+ years of collective legal experience and numerous professional recognitions. See what a difference trusted legal representation can make by calling (301) 761-2007 or using an online contact form today to schedule a consultation. Se habla Español.