Statute of Limitations for Minors

The statute of limitations in most Maryland personal injury cases is three years. There are a variety of exceptions to the statute of limitations that may shorten or lengthen the time you have to file a lawsuit. If you are unsure about the applicable statute of limitations in Maryland, you should contact a Maryland lawyer immediately without delay because the clock is literally ticking. There may also be notice requirements, particularly against local municipalities, the state of Maryland, the federal government, or any related governmental entity, that require specific notification of particulars of the accident and your claim. Take home message: be very careful.

The Statute of Limitations for Minors in Maryland

Maryland law provides where the injured party is "a minor or mental incompetent, that person shall file his action within the lesser of three years or the applicable period of limitations after the date the disability is removed." This is not exactly plain English. We really don't think of being a kid as having a disability. But you get the idea. Basicially, kids have three years after reaching the age of majority to file a lawsuit. This is a simple idea that has led to a great deal of confusion over time.

What Exactly Is the Day A Person Becomes an Adult?maryland

This should be a rather academic question. But it is not because lawyers often foolishly wait until the very last minute to file a lawsuit. In Mason v. Board of Education of Baltimore County, the Maryland high court addressed the issue of whether a minor reaches the age of majority on the day before turning 18 or, as we commonly consider it, the minor's 18th birthday. Tragically, in our opinion because it is awful for a personal injury case to hinge on such a petty technicality, the court in a 7-2 decision decided that it is the former.

Accordingly, the plaintiff in Mason became an adult the day before her eighteenth birthday and, as a result, her claim on her 21st birthday was barred.

What About Medical Bills?

Any claim for medical bills typically belongs to the parent and must be asserted within the limitation period for the adult who is responsible for the child's medical bills. But the parents' right to recover medical expenses before the child turns 18 is not absolute. Under some complicated circumstances (explained in Johns Hopkins Hospital v. Pepper and Piselli v. 75th St. Med), a minor child can recover such expenses in the child's lawsuit, particularly in brain injury and other catastrophic injury cases. For Maryland lawyers filing these claims, the take home message is clear: don't let the statute of limitations pass for the parents but, if it has, make the claim on behalf of the child and read this cases and their progeny to try to carve out an exception as to why the bills should be attributed to the child.

Wrongful Death Cases

Most legal malpractice cases arise from lawyers who know just enough to get themselves into trouble. General rules in Maryland law tend to have exceptions that could take out a forest. One example is the statute of limitations to be applied to minors in wrongful death cases. The Maryland courts, regrettably, view the time period prescribed in Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-904(g) to be a condition precedent to maintaining the action, rather than a statute of limitation. So if a child waits more then three years to bring a wrongful death claim, the "statute of limitations" (sort of) will pass. The lesson here is that you need a good Maryland lawyer - and not a website, by the way - to figure out what the deadline for filing a claim should be. The operative word with the statute of limitations and all its exceptions is “usually” or in most cases. There is a book of exceptions that shorten and lengthen the statue of limitations. So, again, please call a Maryland lawyer to figure out the exact statute of limitations in your case.

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