Legal Memorandum: Minor's Personal Injury Claims in VI

Issue: Are the personal-injury claims of a minor brought against the government subject to the 90-day notice requirement?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Personal injury claims; Minor; 90-day notice period
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 45 N.Y.S.2d 834; 267 A.D. 325; 30 N.Y.2d 337; 480 F.2d 1088; 333 N.Y.S.2d 410; 284 N.E.2d 569
Cited Statutes: V.I. Code Ann. tit. 33, § 3409(c); 5 V.I.C. § 36(a)(1)
Date: 09/01/2007

Among the exceptions to the general rule is the exception provided by the last sentence of § 3409(c).  It provides: “But if the claimant shall be under legal disability, the claim may be presented within two years after such disability is removed.”  V.I. Code Ann. tit. 33, § 3409(c). 

The legal disability of a minor is defined in 5 V.I.C. § 36(a)(1).  That section provides that if a person is under the age of twenty-one at the time her cause of action accrues, “the time of such disability shall not be part of the time limited for commencement of the action.”  

Courts have construed this statute, § 36(a)(1), in combination with the last sentence of § 3409(c) of the Tort Claims Act, to excuse the claims of minors from the Tort Claims Act’s requirement of filing a claim or notice of intention to file a claim within ninety days.  See In re Consol. Bus Cases, 21 V.I. 96 (D.V.I. 1984); Boland v. State, 30 N.Y.2d 337, 333 N.Y.S.2d 410, 284 N.E.2d 569 (1972) (involving nearly identical New York statute); Weber v. State, 267 A.D. 325, 45 N.Y.S.2d 834 (App. Div. 1944) (same). 

In Consol. Bus Cases the court noted that the Virgin Islands Tort Claims Act was modeled on and nearly identical to the New York tort claims statute.   Further, the court recognized that “the language of the Virgin Islands statute which has been taken from the statutes of another jurisdiction is […]

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