It seems that at least once a month a mom or dad calls Painter Law Firm to ask us to help them pursue a medical malpractice claim for injuries to their child that occurred three, four, or more years ago. Sometimes, these folks say that another attorney told them to wait a few years to see how the little boy or girl developed and then to contact a medical malpractice attorney.
What terrible advice!
Most people—including many attorneys who don’t regularly handle medical malpractice cases—don’t realize that claims related to a child’s injury because of medical malpractice have two separate statutes of limitation.
First, any claim for harms, losses, and damages up to the child’s 18th birthday belong to the parents. Thus, as for other negligence claims belonging to adults, a two-year statute of limitations applies. This means that a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking to collect damages to a child in the form of medical bills, care, treatment, and expenses from birth to age 18 must be filed within two years of the alleged negligence.
The second statute of limitations is longer, but only covers claims for medical malpractice damages from the age of 18 and up. Under current Texas law, children under 12 years old at the time of the negligence have until their 14th birthday to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Although these claims belong to a child, this type of lawsuit is typically brought through a parent or other competent adult, who files a lawsuit as the child’s next friend.
The take-home message I want to leave with you is that it makes sense to hire a top-rated Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney for help as soon as your child is injured. Some lawyers give bad advice by suggesting that you might have until the child’s 18th or 20th birthday. In Texas medical malpractice lawsuits, that’s simply not the case.