My son (age 8) was hurt in a car wreck. How much time to I have to bring a lawsuit against the driver responsible for the wreck?
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.
Please note that different rules apply if a child was injured as a result of medical malpractice. 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 well before his or her 19th birthday.
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. Therefore, the safest course of action is to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you believe you may have a claim. Most lawyers, including this writer (John Day), do not charge for this type of consultation.