The statute of limitations controls the amount of time a person must file a lawsuit. If you do not file your case by the deadline, you lose the right to seek damages, no matter how severe your injuries were. When a child is the one injured, the statute of limitations can be different than for an adult. The law often allows children more time than adults to pursue legal action in the interest of fairness. Contact our firm today at 404-842-7838 so we can answer any questions you may have about the statute of limitations for a child injury case.
The Rule on Tolling (Delaying) the Statute of Limitations for Children
In general, when an injured person is under the age of 18 at the time of the incident that causes the harm, the statute of limitations for a child injury case will not start to run until the person turns 18. In other words, if a person must file a lawsuit within two years of the injury, but that person is a minor, she will have two years from the date she turns 18 to bring the legal action.
The Georgia Code says in Section 9-3-90 (2017) that:
“Individuals who are less than 18 years of age when a cause of action accrues shall be entitled to the same time after he or she reaches the age of 18 years to bring an action as is prescribed for other persons.”
The Personal Injury Statute of Limitations for Children
The deadline for filing a personal injury case (for people injured when they are adults) is two years from the date of the injury. These specific actions, however, have different timelines:
- Injury to reputation has a filing deadline of one year.
- Personal injury cases that include a claim for loss of consortium (which involves damages to the injured person’s spouse) have a filing deadline of four years.
Applying the tolling of statutes of limitations laid out in Section 9-3-90 would start the clock running for these periods of time once the child turns 18.
The Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations for Children
An adult who is injured or killed by medical malpractice in Georgia has two years to file a lawsuit. Under some circumstances, this deadline can be as long as five years. For children, however, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims can vary from this general rule, depending on how young the child was at the time of injury. Find out if there is a cap on medical malpractice damages in Georgia and if parents can sue for wrongful death.
The Statute of Limitations for Children Injured by Deficiencies in Improvements to Real Property
If the plaintiff sustained an injury because of negligence in the planning, supervising, or constructing improvements to realty, the timeline for filing a lawsuit is much longer than for a typical personal injury case. The reason for the additional time is that it can take years for defective construction to fail and injure people.
An action for personal injury or wrongful death must start within eight years of the substantial completion of the improvement (construction). If the injury happens during the seventh or eighth year, however, the law allows two additional years, for up to 10 years, to file a lawsuit.
The Section 9-3-33.1 Exception to the General Rule on Child Injury Cases
Section 9-3-90 of the Georgia Code makes an exception to the general rule of tolling (delay or pausing) the statute of limitations for injuries covered by section 9-3-33.1 (2017), which addresses childhood sexual abuse cases. A person who suffered childhood sexual abuse must file a civil action to recover damages either:
- By the victim’s 23rd birthday, or
- Within two years of the date that the plaintiff realized or should have realized the abuse and injury, even if after the age of 23.
Why Children Have a Different Statute of Limitations Than Adults
Children do not have the right to file lawsuits because the law considers people under the age of 18 as lacking legal capacity. If a 16-year-old, for example, files a lawsuit for personal injuries, the court will dismiss the action as soon as the judge realizes that the plaintiff is underage.
Since a child cannot file a lawsuit for himself, he is at the mercy of others, usually his parents, to file an action on his behalf. If the parents do not take legal action, the child would lose his right to compensation if the typical statute of limitations passes before the child turns 18 and can file his lawsuit. This is why children have a different amount of time than adults.
Getting Help for a Child Injury Case in Georgia
We understand that all these statutory rules and exceptions to the rules can be confusing regarding the statute of limitations for a child injury case. You do not have to figure out which rules apply to your or your child’s injury claim.
Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 today. We will set up a meeting with you to talk about the injury and the procedural regulations that will control your case. We do not charge you for this service. In fact, we will not charge any legal fees until you get the compensation you deserve.