As Tennessee personal injury lawyers who represent children who have been harmed by the negligence of others, we are frequently asked how quickly parents must act to protect the legal rights of their children.
Under the law in Tennessee, there are time limits on which any person can bring a lawsuit against another. The general rule is that a child has until one year after his or her eighteenth birthday to bring a lawsuit to recover for a personal injury. Some people argue, however, that a parent’s claim for medical expenses incurred on behalf of the child must be filed by the parent within one year of the incident causing the injury, and thus it makes sense to consult with a lawyer promptly about any injury to your child that you believe was caused by someone else’s negligence.
The rule described above also applies if your child was a victim of sexual abuse in Tennessee.
If the child was injured as a result of medical malpractice in Tennessee, different rules apply. Medical malpractice claims are subject to a statute of repose. A statute of repose imposes an absolute time limit for bringing a claim regardless of the age of the injured person. The statute of repose for bringing a medical malpractice claim is three years. This means that a medical malpractice claim must be initiated within three years of the date of the malpractice regardless of the age of the injured person. Therefore, for example, a medical malpractice claim for a child injured during birth must be initiated within three years of the date of the birth of the child. There are certain other types of lawsuits where a minor must take legal action before his or her 19th birthday.
A relatively new Tennessee law requires that medical providers be given 60 days advance, formal notice before being sued for medical malpractice. The notice must be given before the expiration of the time limit for initiating the claim. If proper notice is given, the deadline for filing the lawsuit is then automatically extended by 120 days.
Determining the deadline for filing suit in a particular case is very complicated. The consequence of a late filing – even by one day – is the loss of your legal rights and the legal rights of your child. Therefore, the safest course of action is to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you believe your child may have a claim. The Law Offices of John Day, P.C. does not charge for this type of consultation.