Visitor Question

Personal Injury Claim in an Indian Reservation Casino…

Submitted By: Edgar (San Jose, CA, USA)

My mom had an accident inside an Indian casino in Tuolomne, California. While playing in the slot machine, the chair where she was sitting tipped back and fell down. Because of that fall she was injured and had a hip surgery for a fractured bone.

She stayed in the hospital and in the rehabilitation facility for about 2 months and continued her recovery at home. As a result of the injury, she currently cannot walk without using a walker.

We are contacting several personal injury lawyers to file a personal injury claim for my mom but non of them is willing to handle it because according to them its very tough to deal with the Indian tribal community.

We filed our own claim and the insurance company of the casino received it 2 days after the deadline which is June 30, 2010. The accident happened on January 2, 2010 and the statute of limitation is only 180 days.

We have recently received a letter from the insurance company denying our claim because we did not comply with the statute of limitation. But they also informed us that we have 15 days from the date we received their letter, to file a request for arbitration with a $200 arbitration fee.

My mother does not want to go into this route and wants to write a letter to the insurance company to reconsider our claim and is willing to accept any reasonable offer of settlement amount.

Can she still get a settlement for a personal injury claim that was received by the insurance company 2 days past the deadline of the 180 day statute of limitation? Thanks for your help.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Edgar,

You have been correctly advised that dealing with tribal entities is more difficult than state courts because there are special, federal rules that apply strictly to tribal communities.

If the statute of limitations is 6 months, this would have clearly been violated which in general, is a complete bar to recovery.

What strikes me as odd, however is the timing of the statute of limitations. While Indian tribes have their own courts and you must litigate matters there (not the Superior Court), 6 months is a very short time frame since most tribal courts have deadlines and civil rules typical to the state system.

If I were you, I would find out what tribal court has jurisdiction, file your claim there, serve the tribal representative and the insurance company and begin negotiations from there.

I have a feeling that the statute of limitations for such a matter is at least one year.

Learn more here: Casino Accidents and Injury Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


2 thoughts on “Personal Injury Claim in an Indian Reservation Casino…

  1. Gregory S. Arnold , Tribal Law Attorney says:

    There are typically two time periods. There is a “Notice of Claim” period, after which the tribe is allowed a reasonable period to investigate and make an administrative decision. There is a waiting period from this deadline until a suit can be filed. Then, there is the statute of limitations deadline, which is different from, and later than, the Notice of Claim deadline. Also, this is NOT “federal law”. This is tribal law.

  2. gary m says:

    Usually if the casino received the claim 2 days late, the date the letter was postmarked is the actual day the claim was filed. If that day was before the date of expiration then you still were within the statute time requirements.

    The problem now is the time lapse between the time you got your denial and now. There is also a time limit to arbitrate which is usually 60 days, whether the time to file is tolled because of their error is an issue of law.

    You may still have a claim. Tthey can’t miss-inform you in order to win a claim. You may be able to re-file because of of their error… the chances are slim though.

    See: doctrine of unclean hands, and fraud in Blacks law dictionary, i.e. if one commits fraud while litigating in order to win, there is a chance that an arbitration judge will rule in your favor and let you proceed, because they come to court w/unclean hands, the unclean hands theory is…”no person who comes with unclean hands may benefit in a court of law”.

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