Dog Attacks on Minors Teach Lesson of Knowing Your State's Statute of Limitations
By Gerri Elder
Recent lawsuits involving dogs attacking minors reveal the importance of knowing the statute of limitations in your state for filing a personal injury claim.
In a tight 3-2 decision, the Alaska Supreme Court recently announced that the state's current statute of limitations for minors under the age of eight deprives them of their due process rights to gain access to the courts. Specifically, the Alaska statute of limitations in question requires a minor less than eight years old to file a personal injury lawsuit before his or her 10th birthday.
This decision centered on a personal injury case involving a child who suffered serious facial injuries after being attacked by a dog. Essentially, the Alaska Supreme Court has helped children under the age of eight from having potential personal injury claims barred by the statute of limitations before they ever become adults. The Alaska Supreme Court has basically given minors in the state to the age of 20 to file a personal injury claim as a person is legally considered an adult at 18.
In a similar vein, a recent Pennsylvania personal injury lawsuit involving a dog attack of a minor further reveals the importance of knowing the statutes of limitations in your state. Back in 1999, Laura Haidet was attacked by a dog owned by Gregory and Nancy Kovalchik while she was playing videogames with other children at the couple's Bristolville home.
A Vindy.com story detailed that Haidet suffered deep wounds to the face during the attack, which was described in the personal injury lawsuit as being "without warning or provocation." She needed 150 stitches to initially close the wound and also required surgery for scar revision. Haidet is now claiming that she needs another surgery to improve the positioning of her nose cartilage and a difference between the right and left sides of her nose.
Now 19 years old, Haidet and her attorney Rick Bush are seeking more than $25,000 in damages from the family. Bush explained in the story that the Pennsylvania statute of limitations for filing for bodily damages is two years; however, this time frame does not apply to minors under normal circumstances. Bush further detailed that the Pennsylvania statute of limitations for filing for damages sustained as a minor begins at the age of 18 and ends on the 20th birthday. Thus, the personal injury lawsuit by the 19-year-old Haidet is acceptable in the state.
Ultimately, these cases involving dog attacks on minors reveal the importance of talking to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after suffering a personal injury. Statutes of limitations may not be as clear-cut as you think as they can vary from state-to-state and sometimes even by the type to personal injury case. A personal injury lawyer can fill you in on your state's statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim.