The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) provides a means for citizens to file a personal injury lawsuit against the United States government. And while the substantive laws governing Indiana car accident cases do not change depending on the defendants named in the case, there may be additional procedural requirements in cases that are filed against a government defendant.One of the most important differences when a case is filed against a government defendant is the notice and timing requirements. In a recent case, a federal appellate court determined that a plaintiff’s claim against the United States Post Office (USPS) was time-barred, based on her failure to comply with the timing requirements of the FTCA.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was injured when a USPS vehicle struck her car. Two weeks after the accident, the plaintiff filed an administrative claim with the USPS, seeking compensation for her injuries. Seven months later, the USPS responded, denying the plaintiff’s claim.
Eight months later, the plaintiff filed this lawsuit, naming the USPS and the driver of the vehicle as defendants. The U.S. government was substituted as the defendant, based on the relationship the government has with the USPS. The government then sought to dismiss the plaintiff’s case, based on her failure to comply with the FTCA.
Specifically, the government claimed that the plaintiff failed to file her case within six months of the date when the USPS denied her claim.
The FTCA Filing Requirements
The FTCA requires a prospective plaintiff to first file a claim with the federal agency from which she is seeking relief. If the claim is denied, a plaintiff can then file a personal injury lawsuit against the government.
Regarding the timing requirements, the plaintiff must file her claim with the “appropriate Federal agency within two years after such claim accrues” or “within six months after the date . . . of notice of final denial of the claim.”
The Court’s Decision
The plaintiff argued that by filing her claim with the USPS within two weeks of the accident, she complied with the FTCA. The plaintiff argued that she needed to either file her claim with the USPS within two years OR file her claim within six months of the date of denial. The government argued that the plaintiff needed to comply with both requirements.
The court agreed with the government, explaining that under the plaintiff’s proposed interpretation, an accident victim who needed to only comply with either of the two requirements could wait as long as she wanted to file a claim with the federal agency, as long as she filed her case within six months of the claim’s denial. This, the court held, was not what Congress intended when it passed the FTCA, and thus the court rejected the plaintiff’s interpretation.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Indiana car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the facts of your case and who was responsible, there may be certain additional requirements that must be followed. The dedicated Indiana personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience representing victims in all types of Indiana motor vehicle accident cases, including those involving government employees. To learn more, call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney today.
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