In order to protect younger individuals, there are many unique and special rules that apply to legal claims involving minors. If you aren’t careful, it is easy to make a mistake or to miss a procedural rule, which could have a devastating outcome for the minor’s claim. As North Carolina personal injury lawyers with experience handling claims on behalf of minors, we have the experience it takes to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected.
The North Carolina Supreme Court recently considered whether the appointment of a guardian ad litem for a minor removes a disability and starts the statute of limitations for that minor’s claim. A guardian ad litem is an adult party assigned to represent the best interests of a child and to make legal decisions on behalf of that child. In the case at hand, a baby suffered a brain injury during delivery under the guidance of a nurse midwife who managed the delivery. Three years later, a trial court appointed a guardian ad litem for the child for the purpose of bringing a civil claim against the nurse. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit on that same day against the medical professionals involved in the delivery. For unknown reasons, the guardian ad litem eventually dismissed the claim.
Six years later, the trial court appointed the same guardian to represent the child in a similar medical action, which the guardian filed the same day. This time, the complaint named additional defendants. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that the statute of limitations for the claim had expired, relying on North Carolina’s three-year limit for bringing a medical malpractice claim.