When you find out your child has cerebral palsy, your first thought is likely about finding your child the right care and support. You may need to set up more medical appointments, find other specialists, rearrange your work schedule and pencil in a few hours for sleep. Reaching out to a cerebral palsy lawyer may be the last thing on your mind. But what you may not realize is that the clock that keeps time on the statute of limitations for cerebral palsy has already started.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
“Statute of limitations” refers to the period of time that a person has to pursue a claim after an injury. The purpose of these statutes is to ensure that issues are resolved in a reasonable amount of time. The limits to investigation, documentation and availability of evidence define the amount of time for statutes of limitations.
There are different statutes of limitations for criminal and civil cases, as well as for various types of injuries. Medical malpractice, wrongful death and sexual abuse cases may vary widely in the amount of time that you have to file charges.
In some cases, a person may not be able to file a civil lawsuit if the statute of limitations has run out. In other cases, the claim may be filed, but is subject to being dismissed if the responding party can show that the statute of limitations has passed.
In addition to defining the length of time available to pursue a claim, the statute of limitations determines the type of events that start the clock. The starting point may be a single event, or it may vary in special circumstances. The complex nature of these time limits and starting points makes having an attorney’s assistance vital for someone who needs to recover damages after an injury.
How Statutes of Limitations for Cerebral Palsy Vary by State
Every state has its own statute of limitations for cerebral palsy. The statutes of limitation vary significantly from state to state, and they are best understood with the assistance of a cerebral palsy attorney. However, in general, the three main ways statutes of limitations vary is in starting point, length of time and special circumstances.
Most states define the first starting point for the statute of limitations as the incident that contributed to the cerebral palsy injury. If your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a birth injury due to medical negligence, this incident would start the clock for your opportunity to file a claim. This makes it difficult if your child is not diagnosed with cerebral palsy until months or years later.
Some states use the cerebral palsy injury as the starting point for their statutes of limitations for cerebral palsy cases. Most states, however, allow for a discovery period within the statute of limitations for cerebral palsy. This clock begins when the discovery of the injury occurs. The diagnosis of cerebral palsy is usually considered the start of this discovery period.
It’s important to note that in some states the language in the statute of limitations says there is a period of reasonable discovery. The reasonable discovery may be shown to refer to the beginning of symptoms, prior to a diagnosis, as the discovery that starts the clock.
Length of Time
The laws in most states usually allow for two years to file a claim after the initial injury, and an additional time period for discovery. Kentucky and Louisiana limit the period from the initial injury to one year for filing a cerebral palsy case, though they both honor additional periods of discovery. Kentucky allows four years after discovery, and Louisiana allows two years.
Other states like Maryland allow for five years to file for cerebral palsy compensation after the initial injury, and add three years for discovery. While this may seem like a long period, time moves quickly in the courts, so it is very important for you to move quickly if you are considering a civil lawsuit.
Some states use the age of the child with cerebral palsy as a cap for when cases can be filed. For example, in Maryland the laws say the case must be filed by the child’s 11th birthday.
A few states have additional points on the clock. In Missouri, a child with cerebral palsy may file a case on their own behalf at age 18. In Texas and Missouri, minors are allowed to file on their own behalf, but they must do so by the age of 14 (Texas) or 10 (Missouri).
Needless to say, there are a lot of variables in these cases. They can be difficult to wade through on your own, especially while taking care of your family. Talking over your options with a cerebral palsy lawyer is the best way to find out whether your case meets your state’s statute of limitations.
Having served families affected by cerebral palsy for decades, we know how difficult it can be to add filing deadlines to your plate when you’re taking care of a family. It is heartbreaking to hear about the burdens that many parents have to bear to make ends meet.
Janet, Janet & Suggs has gone beyond settlements and courtrooms to work with families to advocate for laws that are more fair to those affected by medical negligence. We have helped expand the statutes of limitations in cerebral palsy cases and pushed for the rights of children to be compensated for their injuries. No family should suffer due to medical negligence.
How the Statute of Limitations Affects a Cerebral Palsy Claim
If you suspect that your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a medical professional’s negligence, the earlier you contact an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer, the better your claim will fare.
Along with the statute of limitations for filing a case, many states require additional steps that must be completed within even shorter deadlines. Without knowing these rules, you might miss an opportunity to file a case and recover compensation.
At JJS, we are familiar with the many laws and regulations that vary nationwide. Our cerebral palsy attorneys have court approval to practice in most states. We maintain offices in numerous states and Washington, DC. We have successfully represented clients in over 40 states and in the District of Columbia. Even if you are not close to an office, we are easily available by phone and online chat.
If you think that your child’s cerebral palsy is a result of medical negligence, you deserve the help of an expert who can guide you through the statute of limitations rules. We have a history of breaking records in several states for the largest birth injury recovery and are not afraid to say no to a settlement that is less than our clients deserve.
Find out if you have a case with a free claim review from our personal injury lawyers. The sooner you contact JJS, the more likely it is that we can help your family. We do not charge any upfront costs and will not recover attorney’s fees until we win.
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