Federal Court Overseeing California Considers Whether Time Limits Should Be Extended for Minors in FTCA Claims

In a recent opinion, a federal appeals court was tasked with deciding whether a plaintiff whose Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) claim was not properly filed as a minor could file his claim beyond the statute of limitations. The case is a precedential decision for cases in the court’s jurisdiction, including California car accident cases.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s father died in a car crash on an Arizona highway in 2005. The plaintiff’s mother filed a claim with the federal agency over two years later, and then filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. She claimed deficiencies in the highway barrier involved in the father’s crash. The plaintiff was nine years old when his father died and sixteen when the suit was filed.

Filing a Claim Under the Federal Tort Claims Act

The Federal Tort Claims Act allows people to sue the United States government and its agencies for certain torts committed by federal employees while acting within the scope of their official duties. In an FTCA claim, a claimant must show that: (1) injury or property damages caused by a federal employee; (2) the employee was acting within the scope of his official duties; (3) the employee acted negligently or wrongfully; and (4) the act proximately caused the damages.

Under the FTCA, plaintiffs must exhaust certain administrative remedies before they can file suit in court. As stated in 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b), plaintiffs are required to file the claim first with the applicable federal agency within two years after the claim accrues. Plaintiffs must file the claim within six months after the date of mailing of the agency’s notice of final denial of the claim. In addition, in all claims, plaintiffs must file within six years after the right of action first accrues.

Whether Tolling Allowed for Minors

The issue in the case was whether the plaintiff could file a claim after the statute of limitations despite the fact that his mother failed to file with the federal agency within two years of the claim’s accrual, as required under the FTCA. The plaintiff argued that the statute of limitations should be tolled for him because he was a minor at the time his mother failed to timely file. He noted that statutes of limitations are often tolled until a plaintiff reaches the age of majority. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiff’s argument, holding that there is no exception to the statute of limitations for minors under the FTCA. Because the law does not explicitly provide for an exception, the court explained that the statute of limitations could not be tolled, and the plaintiff’s claim was dismissed.

Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured, you may be able to obtain financial compensation. The only way for some accident victims to cover the many expenses associated with serious injuries is by bringing a lawsuit against the person or entity at fault. At Sharifi Firm, PLC, our attorneys can help victims and their families by offering aggressive and experienced representation. We handle cases arising from California car accidents, slip-and-falls, construction accidents, and other incidents. Call us at 1-866-422-7222 or fill out our online form to set up a free consultation.

See Related Posts:

California Court Discusses Vicarious Liability in Recent Car Accident Case, California Injury Lawyer Blog, January 10, 2019.

Court Determines College Is Not Immune from Lawsuit Under California Field Trip Exception, California Injury Lawyer Blog, December 11, 2018.

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