Under Tennessee law, the parents of a child born with cerebral palsy or other birth injury have one year from the date of birth of the child to take appropriate legal action against the responsible parties to seek recovery for medical expenses and loss of services arising from the injury to the child. The child has three years from the date of the birth to bring the claim.
There are a couple of circumstances under which the parents can have more time to bring their claim. First, more time is granted if the parents did not discover and reasonably could not have discovered that the child was injured as a result of malpractice. This legal doctrine, known as the "discovery rule," is an extremely complicated rule of law and no parent should assume that he or she has more than one year from the date of the birth of the child to bring suit unless a competent lawyer with knowledge of all of the facts advises the parent that he or she has additional time. Under no circumstances (except one described below) does the parent have more than three years from the date of the birth of the child to bring a lawsuit.
The exception to the three-year rule for the parents and the child arises if the health care providers "fraudulently conceal" the existence of a claim. Once again, this is an extremely complicated area of the law and no person should assume that it applies to his or her case unless a competent lawyer with knowledge of all of the facts advises the parent that he or she can use the law of "fraudulent concealment" to have additional time to bring a claim for their child’s birth injury.
One other note on time deadlines for such cases: Tennessee law probably provides that a claim for medical expenses can be asserted by the child, or the parents, but not both. (The Tennessee Court of Appeals has a decision that supports this position, but the Tennessee Supreme Court has not as of yet. That is why I qualified my statement with the word "probably.") Thus, if as the parent of a child with CP you missed the one-year deadline for legal action for a parent’s claim you still should see a Tennessee birth injury lawyer as soon possible to see if a valid claim can be asserted by your child.
The parents of children suffering from birth-related injuries have many demands on their time. However, it is important that they explore whether a valid claim exists for the injuries suffered by their child so that he or she can get necessary medical attention and be given the opportunity to live as full and complete of time as possible. Our firm charges no fee for an initial consultation about your potential case and, if we are able to accept your case, we will do so for a contingent fee.
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