You or a family member is incarcerated in a Jail or Prison. The healthcare providers or staff are refusing to provide medical care and you or your family member have been injured. You want to file a claim for your injuries, however, an inmate is not able to file a lawsuit if they are still incarcerated unless they have exhausted administrative remedies in Jail or Prison. This is required and considered a condition precedent under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
The PLRA is clear. Prisoners must exhaust all administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit. This means the inmate is required to complete the grievance process set out by the Indiana Department of Corrections or the Jail in which they are incarcerated. According to the Seventh Circuit court of appeals, a prisoner who doesn't complete each step within the administrative process fails to exhaust the available remedies and cannot sustain a case in court, and the case must be dismissed.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies in Indiana Prisons
The process is as follows:
1. The inmate must submit a complaint to the facility's grievance specialist within 48 hours of the incident. The complaint must be in writing using a specific preprinted form. The grievance specialist is a designated Department of Corrections employee who can review the facility records, interview staff and have access to the facilities records to see if the problem can be resolved. This is the informal process.
2. If dissatisfied with the informal resolution, file a formal grievance.
3. If the formal grievance isn't resolved, file an appeal.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies in Indiana Jails
Most jails also have a grievance policy. Some have a three step process similar to the Indiana Department of Corrections others have a four step process. Generally, the process is an attempt at informal resolution, a formal grievance and one or more levels of appeal.
It is imperative that the administrative rules be followed too a "T" otherwise the inmate will not be able to make a claim if he or she is still incarcerated when the statute of limitations runs.
If you have any questions about an Indiana Prison/Jail Medical Neglect matter, call 219.690.8997.