What is the statute of limitations in an FTCA case? The FTCA allows injured people to recover money damages when a federal employee causes the injury. The FTCA applies to medical malpractice committed by federally employed health care providers. Victims of medical malpractice must bring claims within a limited time under the FTCA. How long do you have before your statute of limitations expires?
2 Year Statute of Limitations
The FTCA has a 2-year statute of limitations. There is no tolling provision that gives children more time to file. To bring a claim, you must present an administrative claim with the correct federal agency within 2 years of an injury resulting from negligence. Claimants must give the government agency at least six months to investigate before filing suit in federal court. Mailing the claim is not enough to satisfy the statute of limitations. The government must actually receive the written claim.
A Moving Target: When the Deadlines Change Mid-Case
The statute of limitations changes based on how the government responds to the administrative claim. A claim denial triggers a new statute of limitations that is only six months long. Claimants must file a request for reconsideration of the administrative claim or a federal lawsuit within six months of the date of a written denial sent by registered or certified mail. This is true even if the original 2 years from the date of the injury has not expired yet.
The government often takes more than six months to resolve an administrative claim. If the government investigates for more than six months, claimants could opt to file suit in federal court. But nothing in the FTCA requires a claimant to file suit. The one caveat to going beyond six months is the potential application of state statutes of repose.
State Statutes of Repose
A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations in that a repose statute limits the time to file a lawsuit. The FTCA does not contain a statute of repose. But many state codes have a statute of repose for medical malpractice. A statute of repose eliminates the right to sue a defendant after a certain amount of time has passed. A plaintiff can allow an administrative claim to continue pending for years if there is no state repose law that could be applied to the claim. But state repose laws may impose deadlines on when a lawsuit must be filed in court.
What About The “Discovery Rule”?
What happens if you discover there was negligence involved in your care more than 2 years from the date of the care? Sometimes, there may still be a way to timely present a claim. A “discovery rule” applies to some FTCA cases, depending on when the claimant knew or should have known that an injury was caused by negligence. Consult with an experienced FTCA lawyer to find out if your claim might fall under the “discovery rule” exception.
If you were injured by medical negligence by a federal employee, obtain copies of your medical records and consult with an experienced FTCA lawyer as soon as possible to maximize your chances of successfully resolving your claim.