Under ordinary circumstances, you only have three years to file a lawsuit for personal injuries in Washington State, but the rules can be different for cases involving children.
The statute of limitations tolls (does not start to run) for a person with a personal disability. Personal disabilities include being:
- Under the age of 18 (except in claims of medical malpractice)
- Disabled such that you cannot understand the nature of the lawsuit
- In jail or prison for a criminal offense, but before sentencing
Thus, the clock does not start to run for a child personal injury victim until the child turns 18. At that point, the child has three years to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit Before the Child Turns 18
You may be entitled to file a lawsuit for a child’s injury prior to the child turning 18. This may allow you to recover compensation for damages you experienced related to the child’s injury, including medical expenses and lost wages.
If you would like to discuss filing a personal injury lawsuit for a child, call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000.
Other Circumstances That Could Toll the Statute of Limitations for a Child Personal Injury Case
In addition to the rules that focus on the child’s age, several other circumstances can extend the amount of time a minor (or an adult) has to bring an action for personal injury. Here are some examples:
The liable party hides or stays out of Washington State. In some cases, the defendant might try to avoid the lawsuit by concealment or absence from the state. Let’s say that the defendant hides to wait out the statute of limitations, thinking that after the time runs, you cannot sue her. Washington State law stops the clock when the negligent person is not available for you to sue. When she resurfaces, the time starts to count again.
The at-fault or the injured party died. Different time limits apply if the person you want to sue dies before you file the lawsuit. The death of the injured person (in this case, the child) can also affect the statute of limitations.
Damages a Child Can Recover in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Every situation is different, but these are some examples of the damages successful plaintiffs can recover:
- Medical expenses: You can recover the costs of the medical care your child needed to treat the injuries. The reasonable expenses for the ambulance, emergency room, doctors, surgery, hospital, diagnostic testing, imaging work, physical therapy, and prescription drugs may be recoverable.
- Lost wages: Although most children do not have a claim for lost income, those who work (e.g., part-time job) may be able to recover lost wages. If you missed work to care for your child after their injury, talk to attorney Max Meyers about your right to recover compensation for your lost wages.
- Disability: Unfortunately, sometimes children sustain debilitating injuries in accidents. If your child has lingering effects from the injuries, we may use medical and vocational experts who can testify as to the monetary value of these impacts on your child’s life.
- Pain and suffering: The purpose of these damages is to give your child some compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress she endured.
- Long-term care: If your child experienced catastrophic injuries to the extent that he will require ongoing medical care and personal assistance, the negligent party should have to bear those costs, not your family.
- Loss of earning potential: Sometimes severe injuries affect the child’s career options and earning potential. E.g., amputation or traumatic brain injury could affect the child’s ability to perform some job tasks. In such cases, your child may qualify for compensation for their loss of earning potential.
Getting Help for a Personal Injury Case Involving a Child
The team at Max Meyers Law can evaluate your case and help you pursue a claim for the child’s personal injuries. We will explain how the minor’s age changes some of the rules and how we may need to do things differently because of those regulations. Call us today at 425-399-7000 for a free consultation. There is no obligation.