Recently, a woman sued the Iowa Department of Transportation after her husband was killed on a local highway. However, before she was able to bring her suit in court, she was required to file a claim with her state’s appeal board, an administrative agency.
According to the court’s written opinion, the woman’s husband died in a motorcycle accident. She filed a claim alleging that the drop-off between the paved highway and the gravel shoulder was too steep, and that the Department of Transportation failed to maintain the highway in a safe condition. She asserted that the state Department of Transportation was negligent in maintaining the highway, and that the road’s condition caused her husband’s death.
The state appeal board did not take any action on the woman’s claim for over six months. She then withdrew her claim and filed suit in a court of law. The district court dismissed her suit, stating that the woman did not exhaust her administrative remedies before filing suit as the administrator of the estate, as required by state law. However, the state’s supreme court heard her case and held that she had properly exhausted her administrative remedies, allowing her case to proceed to trial without having the Department of Transportation rule on the issue.
Exhausting Administrative Remedies
The requirement that an individual exhaust their administrative remedies means that in some circumstances a person must first go to an administrative agency to have the issue examined. The purpose of the administrative remedies rule is to decrease the burden on courts by resolving some disputes within administrative agencies. It also allows agencies to examine the facts of the case, apply their expertise, and potentially resolve the issue without the courts.
The administrative agency will generally require an individual to file a petition, attend a hearing, and file appeals through the agency. If the person has completed the agency’s procedures, he or she can file a complaint in court. However, the requirements depend on the particular statutes at issue. For example, in the case above, the woman was able to withdraw her claim after the state administrative agency did not take any action for six months. In Illinois, there are some circumstances when you have to exhaust administrative remedies before filing a personal injury claim.
There may also be exceptions to the administrative remedies requirement. For example, the requirement may be waived if an administrative remedy is inadequate, if the procedures would lead to an unreasonable delay, or if the conduct exceeded the scope of the agency’s authority.
Do You Need Help Filing a Claim?
You may not even be aware that your claim requires you to exhaust your administrative remedies before filing suit in court. Knowing when and how to file a claim with an administrative agency can save you a lot of time and money. The skilled attorneys at Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson LLP can help. We provide high-quality legal services based on our commitment to high standards of professionalism, ethics, client service, and compassion. To speak to a lawyer about your case, call today for your free consultation at (888) 532-7766.
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