Is the time limit for a personal injury case different for a minor child?

Question:  How long do we have to file a claim for a minor child?  My son was attacked by a dog and injured very badly about 7 years ago when he was very young.  Can we still make a claim since he has a lot of scarring?

Robert’s Answer:  The time limit you mention is called the the statute of limitations.  In Texas, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is two years.  That means that a claim remains valid for that period of time, at which point you must either settle your case or have a lawsuit on file.  However, under some circumstances, the time limit is “tolled” (which is just a fancy word for “extended”).  One of those circumstances is with minor children.  Likewise, the personal injury claims of a minor child are tolled until the child turns eighteen years old or is otherwise “emancipated” (legally deemed an adult).  Then the child has two years from that date forward to either settle or prosecute the case.

However, this only applies to the claims that legally belong to the child.  Claims that belong to the parents are not tolled.  For example, this would included claims for medical expenses.  This is because, under Texas law, the parents have the legal duty to provide for the medical care of their child.  Likewise, if the child gets medical treatment for any injury while a minor, then recovery for those medical bills is a claim that belongs to the parents.

The child’s claims, which are tolled, include those which are personal to the child such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, scarring, disfigurement, physical impairment, etc.  These claims belong to the child.  They may be brought by the parents (on behalf of the child) at anytime while the child is still a minor.  Or, they can be brought by the child within two years after the child becomes an adult.

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