The Indiana Court of Appeals issued a decision concerning the Indiana Tort Claims Act in the case of Schoettmer v. Wright (pdf). The plaintiff had been in a collision with a driver employed by the South Central Community Action Program. SCCAP is considered a political subdivision by virtue of IC 34-13-3-22.
A claim was apparently submitted to SCCAP’s insurer, but negotiations did not work out and Schoettmer filed suit. However, the suit was filed without any notice of tort claim having been filed as is required as a prerequisite to suit against a political subdivision under the Indiana Tort Claims Act. The plaintiff protested that the insurer had notice. However, IC 34-13-3-8 requires that notice be served on the governing body of the political subdivision. Putting an insurer on notice is not the same as putting the governing body on notice.
A more interesting question is what difference it might make if the injured party actually and reasonably does not know that the tortfeasor is a political subdivision. The majority hedges a bit, but essentially comes down on the side that it doesn’t make a difference. They talk a bit about how plaintiff’s counsel didn’t diligently learn that SCCAP was a political subdivision and file a notice within a “reasonable time”. But, I think it was probably too late by the time he got involved, and the majority isn’t clear on where this “reasonable time” extension might come from. The dissenting judge would be more inclined to give the injured party a pass from the application of ITCA if ignorance of the political subdivision status was actual and reasonable.