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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On April 20, 1997, 14-year-old Lauren Garza was in a car driven by her grandmother, appellee Irma Garza, when an accident occurred. Lauren, who sustained injuries in the accident, filed suit against Irma on Jan. 21, 2003. In her original petition, Lauren requested damages for her injuries resulting from the accident, including damages for her past and future medical expenses. Irma moved for partial summary judgment on the grounds that any claim for medical expenses incurred before Lauren’s 18th birthday belonged, not to her, but to her parents. Therefore, according to Irma, Lauren had no standing to assert a claim for those medical expenses. On Sept. 26, 2003, an amended petition was filed, in which Lauren’s mother, appellant Mary Garza, was added as a plaintiff. In the amended petition, Lauren asserted a claim for medical expenses incurred after her 18th birthday and into the future, while Mary asserted a claim for medical expenses incurred before Lauren’s 18th birthday. Irma filed a supplemental motion for summary judgment, in which Irma argued that Mary’s claim for medical expenses was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The trial court granted the motion and rendered a take-nothing judgment against Mary. After the trial court severed Mary’s claims from those asserted by Lauren, this appeal by Mary ensued. HOLDING:Affirmed. Mary asserts that because Lauren’s claims were timely filed, Mary’s subsequent claim for Lauren’s medical expenses relates back and is considered timely filed as well. “If a filed pleading relates to a cause of action . . . that is not subject to a plea of limitation when the pleading is filed, a subsequent amendment . . . to the pleading that changes the facts or grounds of liability or defense is not subject to a plea of limitation unless the amendment . . . is wholly based on a new, distinct, or different transaction or occurrence.” Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code 16.068 (Vernon 1997). Mary contends that 16.068 should be liberally construed to preserve her rights because Lauren’s initial, albeit wrongful, claim for her pre-18th birthday medical expenses served as notice to Irma that a claim for those expenses would be asserted. Although Lauren’s original petition may have served the purpose of notifying Irma that a claim for the medical expenses incurred before Lauren turned 18 was being asserted, that alone is not reason enough to apply the relation-back doctrine because Lauren did not have a claim for those expenses. A minor’s cause of action is distinctly separate from the parent’s right to recover damages for injuries to the minor. Sax v. Votteler, 648 S.W.2d 661 (Tex. 1983). The purpose of 16.068 is to protect existing rights. Almazan v. United Services Automobile Association Inc., 840 S.W.2d 776 (Tex. App. San Antonio 1992, writ denied). In her original petition, Lauren sought recovery of her past and future medical expenses. Lauren did not have an existing right to bring a claim for medical expenses incurred before her 18th birthday. That right belonged to her parents. Thus, the amended pleading adding Mary as a party plaintiff after the statute of limitations expired did not relate back to the filing of the original petition because Lauren herself did not have a cause of action for her pre-18th birthday medical expenses. The court concludes that because Lauren did not have standing to bring a claim for the medical expenses incurred before her 18th birthday, Mary was required to file her claim for those expenses within the applicable two-year statute of limitations. Because she did not do so, the trial court properly rendered summary judgment in Irma’s favor. OPINION:Marion, J.; Duncan, Angelini and Marion, JJ.

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