Under the FTCA, you have two years to file your claim administratively. If you do not file administratively, you may not be able to bring your suit against the United States. But under the United States Supreme Court precedent, if you don’t know of the existences and cause of your injury, you may be able to toll your statute of limitations.
The Seventh Circuit court of appeals, in E.Y. v. United States, recently addressed this question in the case of a mother of a child born with severe birth injuries. Originally, the mother had sued two defendants: a University in Chicago, where she delivered her son and a federally funded clinic. Under the FTCA, the United States may be liable for injuries caused by a federally funded clinic. At the trial court, the district court dismissed the mother’s claims against the government, finding that her suit suit against the federally funded clinic and thus the United States was filed about two weeks too late because the mother had records that should have caused her to pursue a claim against the federally funded clinic.
Luckily, the Seventh Circuit reversed the district court holding that the mom could bring her case to trial because a reasonable trier of fact could find that the mother simply did not have enough information to conclude that the federally funded clinic was responsible. If you have a similar claim, you should not wait. Having to appeal a case to have a higher court correct an error below is costly and timely. It’s better to get it right before the district court and the best way to do that is to contact a lawyer and have him or her analyze your case. As we have written previously, it may be near difficult to impossible, particularly for a lay person, to determine whether their case is against a federally funded clinic. Because federally funded clinics don’t usually advertise themselves as covered by the FTCA, a lay person may not know who they should sue, even if they have a claim against the clinic. And if they wait too long, they could lose their case, as this family almost did, under the FTCA statute of limitations.