Q: How does a medical malpractice claim differ for a child’s injury?
A medical malpractice claim for a child’s injury must account for damages well into the future (Will the child require lifelong care?) as well as any impact the injuries have on earning potential (Will the child’s education or other life skills be affected?). The statute of limitations is even tolled for young children.
Accounting for Future Impact of Injuries
Parents and their attorneys must account for potential earning losses in malpractice claims that affect a child’s ability to attain educational and other credentials, or simply acquire necessary job skills.
Similarly, a child may require special medical treatment or care for the rest of his or her life. The costs of this treatment and care coupled with inability to maintain gainful employment as a result of injuries could create a severe financial burden. These damages should be addressed.
Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Claim for a Child’s Injury
Most injury claims must be filed within two years of the accident or two years from when the injury was discovered (or reasonably should have been discovered).
While in most child injury claims the statute of limitations begins on the child’s 18th birthday, this isn’t the case with medical malpractice claims. If the child was at least five years old at the time of the injury, the aforementioned statute of limitations rules apply.
For children under the age of five who are injured, a claim must be filed by the child’s seventh birthday. So even if the injury occurred at two years old, the parents have until the child turns seven to file the claim of medical negligence. The same statute of limitations applies for retained foreign objects (one year from date of discovery) regardless of the child’s age.
Further, a claim cannot be brought after the child’s 10th birthday if the child was under five years old at the time of the incident or after five years from the date of the incident if the child was over five years old.
For help handling a medical malpractice claim involving child injury, consult Jason R. Schultz.