A Trap For The Unwary in Claims Against State or Local Government

A Trap For The Unwary in Claims Against State or Local Government
August 5, 2011 jamesludlow


In my last blog entry, I discussed various statutes of limitations that apply when a negligent person causes injury to person or property.  In general, in Indiana most claims for personal injury or property damage have a two-year statute of limitations.

However, when a wreck or accident is caused by an employee of a state or local government, in addition to filing a lawsuit within the usual two year statute of limitations, the injured person must also file a written document called a Tort Claims Notice within either 180 days or 270 days after the accident, depending upon what governmental entity employed the person who caused the accident.  If this Torts Claims Notice is not filed within this time, then any legal claim by the injured person against the government is forfeited, even through the two year statute of limitations may not have expired.

When an accident is caused in whole or part by an employee of local government, such as a city or county employee, a Tort Claims Notice must be filed with a specific government office within 180 days after the accident.  Alternatively, if an employee of the State of Indiana caused the accident, this notice must be filed within 270 days.  This notice must also be in a specific form as described in Ind. Code 34-13-3-10.

To make things even more complicated, it is not always obvious who is considered an employee of state of local government.  For example, if an IndyGo Bus that operates in Indianapolis caused an accident, because this bus service is operated by the City of Indianapolis, a Tort Claims Notice must be filed within 180 days.   Otherwise, any claim by the injured person is barred.

Since this law was enacted to limit even legitimate claims that governmental entities may have to pay, the best advice is to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with these types of claims as soon as possible after an accident to make sure that a Tort Claims Notice is properly filed.