Minors with Injury Claims Against the Government

Minors with Injury Claims Against the Government

If a minor has an injury claim against the government, are there different procedures?

For starters, normally in other legal areas, cases involving minors are “tolled”.  That means the clock is “paused” so to say, and only is “unpaused” when the minor turns 18.

When a minor is injured by the government, the timelines are the same as if he/she were an adult.  (Gov. Code. 911.2)

What about if the minor filed a late claim with the government?  Is it the same as when an adult files a late claim against the government?

If the government entity does not respond to the minor’s application to present a late claim, the claim is deemed denied after 45 days.

Minors do not get any special treatment in this area of law. That’s what the California Supreme Court ruled this week in J.M. v. Huntington Beach Union High School District.

J.M. was a 15 year old high school football player who was injured when he was tackled playing football.  He was diagnosed with a concussion on October 31, 2011.  Per the Government Code, he had 6 months from that date to file a government claim with the Huntington Beach School District.

J.M. did not file a timely claim with the School District.  His attorney applied to present a late claim to the School District on October 24, 2012.  It was still within the one year period, so that wasn’t the issue.  The issue was that the District never responded to the application.

Per the Government Code, J.M.’s application was deemed denied by the School District on December 8, 2012 (45 days after the application was presented).  J.M. had 6 months from this date to file suit in court–ie, June 9, 2013.  His attorney instead waited until October 28, 2013 to file the lawsuit.

The California Supreme Court held there is no exception to the Government Code–not even if the claimant is a minor.

The case was tossed out on this strict procedure.

Bottom line– if someone in California has a personal injury claim against the government, delays can be fatal to the case!  It’s imperative to talk to an attorney familiar with the unique timelines associated with government personal injury claims.

For questions about your case against the government, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist, 24/6!