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Late Filing Fee Insignificant to Timeliness of IN Malpractice Claims

Late payment of the state review panel’s filing fee for medical malpractice complaints submitted to it does not affect the statute of limitations period.

Most Indiana medical malpractice claims are required to be submitted a medical review panel before brought to court. See Indiana Code § 34-18-8-4. Indiana Code § 34-18-7-1 requires the claims to be filed within two (2) years. In Miller, et al v. Dobbs, et al., 991 N.E.2d 562 (In. 2013), Plaintiff alleged she was injured on April 3, 2006, when she suffered a stroke following a medical procedure. Nearly two years later, she filed a proposed medical malpractice complaint to a medical review panel of the Indiana Department of Insurance, but failed to submit the required $7.00 filing fee. Because she omitted the filing fee, her Complaint was rejected and was not re-filed until the filing fee was received on April 7. Both sides agreed the applicable statutory deadline was April 4, 2008.

The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants and the court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court, relying on the language of Indiana Code § 34-18-7-3(b), determined that the complaint was to be “considered filed when a copy of the proposed complaint is delivered or mailed by registered or certified mail to the commissioner.” The proposed complaint was mailed by certified mail on March 18, 2008 and deemed timely filed as of that date, even though unaccompanied by the required filing fee.

The full text of the opinion is available on the Supreme Court of Indiana’s website at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/07301301mm.doc.pdf