The Statute of Limitations governs each and every civil claim plaintiffs may have. These are statutorily established periods of time from the date the cause of action is created to when the plaintiff must have filed his claim with the court. The periods of time vary with the type of action, and certain “tolls” on the time may apply which extend the period, such as for infants, fraudulent concealment, or undiscovered injuries. But after the time period is over the claim may be dismissed upon motion by the opposing counsel. Although Statute of Limitation issues seem clear, cases like Moryl v. Ransone discussed below stress the importance of consulting with an experienced knowledgeable attorney.A LaPorte area woman was offered no leniency by the Indiana Court of Appeals in the filing of her claim. This woman had a potentially valid medical malpractice claim against LaPorte Hospital in relation to the wrongful death of her husband. Indiana Medical Malpractice claims have a two-year statute of limitations and are governed by the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, which requires all claims to both be filed first with the Department of Insurance (DOI) then the Indiana Court. As the deadline approached, the woman sent in the complaint on the day before the statutory period expired. Because of the urgency, the woman sent the documents in through FedEx. The papers arrived one day after the deadline.
Traditionally, Indiana, and most jurisdictions, consider the complaint filed on the day it is delivered to a third-party carrier. Indiana Trial Rule 5(F) extends a deadline three days when delivered through a commercial carrier, such as FedEx, to the court. This rule only applies, however, to courts, not to the DOI.
Judge John Baker, writing the opinion for the Court of Appeals, explained that Indiana law only recognizes registered or certified mail through the U.S. Postal Service as valid “third-party carriers” for the purposes of a Medical Malpractice claim filed with the DOI. The court ruled against the woman 3-0.
The unique unfortunate factor in this case is that there is no statute of limitations time listed for the DOI portion of the filing. The prerequisite that the filing be made at the DOI before it may be validly filed with the court leads to an imposed statute of limitations for the DOI filing which then fails to recognize any extension for a commercial carrier.
The Indiana personal injury attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse are dedicated to providing insightful, accurate, and knowledgeable advocacy on behalf of those who have suffered personal injuries or injuries as a result of malpractice. If you believe you have a claim, do not allow the claim to expire. The attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience during all stages of a malpractice claim, from court document preparation and filing, discovery and damage calculation, insurance and settlement negotiation, to litigation.
Contact our office online or by calling (888) 532-7766 to schedule a free confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Related Blog Post:
Handling Minors’ Claims for Personal Injury, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 18, 2013