If you have been involved in a traffic accident, it may be tempting to take a “wait and see” approach. You may be thinking, “As long as I file my case by the statute of limitations, I’m good, right?” Not necessarily.
In some east Texas car accident cases, there are other considerations that effectively “move up” the filing deadline, and a delay can result in the dismissal of an otherwise valid claim. A recent federal case illustrates the point.
Facts of the Case
In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who was allegedly injured in a motor vehicle accident on February 14, 2015. He filed suit against the driver of the other vehicle on January 20, 2017, asserting a claim of negligence. Since the driver was a United States Postal Service employee acting within the scope of his employment, the federal government was also named as a defendant in the case.
The government filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 56(c), averring that the plaintiff’s failure to file suit within six months of the time that the government had denied his administrative claim was fatal to his claim.
The Court’s Determination of the Issues
The court granted the government’s motion to dismiss, first noting that the federal courts derive their jurisdiction from the United States Constitution and other federal laws. A party seeking to avail himself of the jurisdiction of a court has the burden of establishing the subject matter jurisdiction of the court, and Rule 12(b)(1) authorizes the dismissal of a case for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter thereof.
Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the sovereign immunity of the federal government is only waived if the plaintiff follows the strict requirements set forth under the Act. This includes not only filing an administrative claim within two years but also filing suit within six months of the denial of that claim. Since the plaintiff did not meet these requirements – in fact, he missed the deadline by nearly six months – his claim was barred under federal law, and the court lacked jurisdiction to consider his case.
(It is important to note that the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case had nothing to do with who was at fault in the accident or the severity of his injuries. His mere failure to file the correct paperwork at the right time was fatal to his claim.)
Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Your East Texas Car Accident Case
If you or a family member has been involved in an automobile collision, it is important that you speak to an attorney about your case as soon as possible. Failing to comply with statutes of limitations, statutes of repose, notice requirements, and other procedural issues can result in your case being dismissed, even if the other party was clearly at fault. Experienced east Texas car accident lawyer Earl Drott has been helping families in and around Tyler and Smith County seek justice in personal injury and wrongful death cases for over three decades. For a free consultation, call us at 903-531-9300. No upfront legal fees are required to get your case started, so there is no reason to put off the call.
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