Federal Court Issues Opinion Limiting the Time Frame a Minor Has to Pursue an Indiana Personal Injury Claim against the Federal Government

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) case that may impact Indiana personal injury and wrongful death cases involving minor victims. The case required the court to determine if a claim under the FTCA is automatically tolled while the plaintiff is a minor. Ultimately, the court noted that the FTCA contained no explicit provision calling for minority tolling, and thus held that FTCA claims were not subject to minority tolling.

Statutes of Limitations

Generally, all personal injury claims must be brought within a certain period as outlined in the relevant statute of limitations. However, there are some situations in which a statute of limitations is “tolled” or delayed. For example, in some cases, a statute of limitations will be tolled during the period in which the plaintiff is a minor. Another common example of when tolling may occur is when a plaintiff does not discover their injury until a later date

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was nine years old when his father was killed in a car accident. After the accident, the plaintiff’s mother filed an administrative claim with the Federal Highway Administration (FWA) seeking compensation on behalf of her son for the loss of his father. However, it was not until six years later that the plaintiff’s mother filed a lawsuit in federal district court on behalf of her son. Once the plaintiff turned 18, he was substituted for his mother as plaintiff.

In its defense, the FWA argued that the plaintiff’s claim was filed too late. The FWA cited the FTCA’s two-year statute of limitations, noting that the plaintiff’s case was filed well after his claim accrued. The plaintiff responded that, under a recent Supreme Court case law, the statute of limitations in FTCA claims was determined not to be jurisdictional and thus, was subject to equitable tolling. The plaintiff argued that his minority should be sufficient to establish equitable tolling.

The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument, finding that while the statute of limitations under the FTCA is subject to equitable tolling, a plaintiff’s minority status alone is insufficient to trigger equitable tolling. The court explained that, unlike other areas of the law, the FTCA contains no minority-tolling provision, and courts have long held that claims under the FTCA are not subject to minority tolling.

Have You Been Injured by a Government Employee?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Indiana car accident that was caused by the negligence of a government employee, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, time is of the essence. Claims against government agencies, officials, and employees are subject to strict timing requirements, so it is best that you consult with a dedicated Indian personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. At the Indiana personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, we have been working for accident victims for the past 40 years, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalves. To learn more, call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation today.

Related Posts:

Assumption of the Risk in Indiana Personal Injury Cases, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, February 12, 2019

Indiana’s Attractive Nuisance Doctrine, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, February 19, 2019