Massachusetts limits the time in which an injured party can file suit against a defendant. For most personal injury actions, the case must commence within three years after the cause of action accrues. This is known as the statute of limitations. This time begins when the date of the injury occurred or when the injured person knew or should have known that the injury occurred. Massachusetts laws also limit the time for the latter in statutes of repose, which cap the time to file a case. The primary example of this can be found within the medical malpractice statute, G. L. c. 231, § 60D. This statute allows a minor under six years of age to file suit past the three-year period, as long as it is before the child’s ninth birthday and within seven years. For instance, a child may discover that an accident at 18 months of age caused delayed injuries. This child can still file suit past the age of 4 1/2 years old but must file suit within seven years, even though the child will not quite be nine years old.
In a recent case (16-P-299), a father and next friend fought a trial court’s ruling dismissing his medical malpractice claim against three defendants for injuries to his child at birth. The court determined the claims were time-barred by G. L. c. 231, § 60D. The child was born on October 12, 2006, and the initial action was filed on December 26, 2012. On September 17, 2013, the father sought to add three health care provider defendants to the original defendants. The new set filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted, and the father appealed.