As a result of a new case, I had to conduct some research on the tolling (or lack thereof) of the statute of limitations in Massachusetts as it pertains to medical malpractice and children. Rhode Island General Law 9-1-14.1 allows for a tolling of the statute of limitations until the victim turns 18. The plaintiff then has three years from that date in which to file suit.
Massachusetts’ law is not as kind as Rhode Island’s law. Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 231, Section 60D states:
Notwithstanding the provisions of section seven of chapter two hundred and sixty, any claim by a minor against a health care provider stemming from professional services or health care rendered, whether in contract or tort, based on an alleged act, omission or neglect shall be commenced within three years from the date the cause of action accrues, except that a minor under the full age of six years shall have until his ninth birthday in which the action may be commenced, but in no event shall any such action be commenced more than seven years after occurrence of the act or omission which is the alleged cause of the injury upon which such action is based except where the action is based upon the leaving of a foreign object in the body.
In summary, the statute of limitations does not toll for minors in Massachusetts unless the child victim was under the age of 6 at the time of the negligence. In which case the child has until his ninth birthday in which to bring a lawsuit. In no situation, however, can a lawsuit be brought more than seven years after the occurrence of the negligent act.
It is always imperative to speak to an attorney as soon as possible regarding a potential medical malpractice claim. The strongest case in the world can be undone if you fail to meet the statute of limitations, so be sure to avoid the risk.
If your child was the victim of medical negligence in either Rhode Island or Massachusetts, contact our office right away for a free consultation.