We hope the need for this information never arises for you. However, in case it does, this knowledge may be a very useful tool.
The law in South Australia gives an adult three years from the date of the negligent action, to make a personal injury claim. However, in the case of a child the law is different. Time limits for personal injury claims are set by the Limitations of Actions Act 1936 (“the Act”).
The first thing we need to look at is the definition of a child. A child is defined in the Act as a person under 18 years of age and they are considered to be under a legal disability under section 45 of the Act; simply because they are children.
This means the three year time limit for a claim does not start until the child turns 18; that is, becomes an adult. So your child has until their 21st birthday to make a claim for compensation for personal injury.
However, before you put everything on hold for too long we also need to consider section 46A of the Act which states the party that is potentially liable (that is likely to be the defendant in any claim in relation to a child) must be advised of the potential claim within six years of the act or omission which caused the injury. By omission we mean, for example, something a doctor did not do and should have, that caused injury, illness or death.
"Depending on the injury suffered, a claim by a child may take many years to complete. "
While this may all seem like a long time, it does tend to mean people put things off, lose evidence, forget to keep accurate records of the treatment and forget to document changing injuries or maintain accurate records of expenses incurred.
It is important to contact an appropriately qualified lawyer as soon as possible after any incident you believe to have been negligent, to find out if there is a possible claim and if needed, begin the steps required to ensure the best chance possible for a successful claim.
Depending on the injury suffered, a claim by a child may take many years to complete. The main reason for this is it can take years for doctors to decide the likely prognosis for your child after injury. Often the claim will need to wait until a child has finished growing and reached an appropriate stage of development in accord with the injury so medical experts can make assessments as to ongoing needs for the child, future medical treatment, and the like.
I guess you are getting the picture here. Injuries to children can be catastrophic or can also be less serious. However, even in less serious cases the appropriate step is to seek legal advice from a lawyer experienced in these types of claims to make sure the potential opportunity to make a claim is not ‘lost’ over time.