Wrongful death claims in Indiana are governed by a statute of limitations. When that death is caused by medical malpractice, the statute of limitations requires that the complaint must be filed with the Indiana Department of Insurance within two years of the act or omission that caused the death. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the widow of a man who died while in LaPorte Hospital was time barred from bringing her claim because her attorneys chose to file the complaint with FedEx and not the U.S. Postal Service.
According to Indiana Code section 34-18-7-3(b), a proposed complaint is considered filed when it is delivered to the Department or mailed by registered or certified mail to the Department. Rather than use the U.S. Postal Service, the complaint was sent to the Indiana Department of Insurance by FedEx within the two year statute of limitations. However the complaint was not received until a day after the statute of limitations had expired.
In finding that the complaint was time-barred, the Court reaffirmed the three ways a complaint can be filed in Indiana according to statute:
- Personal delivery
- Registered mail
- Certified mail
The court ruled in Moryl v. Ransone that because a different method of serving the complaint was used, outside the statutory three, the complaint was filed when received by the Department of Insurance, not when it was turned over to FedEx for delivery.
This kind of error now prevents any litigation on the merits of a claim of medical malpractice leading to wrongful death. When facing the untimely death of a loved one, it is essential that you seek immediate counsel so that an investigation can be conducted to see if a valid claim exists. Only experienced attorneys who know Indiana litigation procedures and medical malpractice law can adequately represent your interests.