. . . Gibson was injured as a result of his collision with Schroeder on September 27, 2006. On July 15, 2008, Gibson filed suit against Schroeder, alleging that, as a result of Schroeder‟s negligence, Gibson had sustained injury. Thereafter, on September 3, 2008, Gibson submitted discovery requests to Schroeder, to which Schroeder responded on March 5, 2009. Information within these discovery responses indicated that, at the time of the accident, Schroeder was employed by Rieth-Riley. On March 18, 2009, Gibson filed his motion with the trial court for leave to file an amended complaint to add Rieth-Riley as a defendant in this cause of action. The trial court granted Gibson’s motion. Rieth-Riley then filed a motion to dismiss asserting that Gibson’s complaint against it was barred by the statute of limitation. In support of its motion to dismiss, Rieth-Riley filed the affidavit of its risk manager which stated that prior to March 30, 2009, Rieth-Riley had no knowledge that Gibson and Schroeder had been involved in an accident on September 27, 2006, that Gibson had any potential claim against Rieth-Riley, or that a complaint had been filed by Gibson on July 15, 2008. In response, Gibson argued that under the discovery rule, the two-year statute of limitation for personal injury claims did not begin to run until March 2009 when he first discovered the identity of Rieth-Riley as a possible defendant in this action.
Indiana’s discovery rule “is based on the reasoning that it is inconsistent with our system of jurisprudence to require a claimant to bring his cause of action in a limited period in which, even with due diligence, he could not be aware a cause of action exists.” Barnes v. A.H. Robins Co., Inc., 476 N.E.2d 84, 86 (Ind. 1985). In a typical personal injury claim, such as in the present case, the injury occurs at the time the negligent act is done, and the claimant is either aware of the injury or the cause of the injury. In fact, Gibson concedes that he was aware he sustained an injury due to the tortious actions of Schroeder; it was merely Schroeder’s employment with Rieth-Riley of which Gibson was unaware. . . . Stated another way, Gibson was aware of both his injury and the cause of his injury in September 2006, but he argues that the discovery rule should apply to his case to toll the statute of limitation because he did not know, and could not know in the exercise of ordinary diligence, that Rieth-Riley was also potentially liable as Schroeder’s employer.
Applying Gibson’s argument in a practical manner leads to the discovery rule tolling the statute of limitation in personal injury cases until a plaintiff discovers every defendant who might be legally liable for his or her injury. In analyzing Gibson’s assertions, we are mindful that the claimant of an action bears the burden of bringing suit against the proper party within the statute of limitation. Beineke v. Chemical Waste Management of Indiana, LLC, 868 N.E.2d 534, 539-40 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007). The discovery rule is not intended to toll the limitation period until optimal litigation conditions can be established. Rather, as we stated previously, the purpose of the discovery rule is to limit the injustice that would arise by requiring a plaintiff to bring his or her claim within the limitation period during which, even with due diligence, he or she could not be aware a cause of action exists. Therefore, we decline to extend the discovery rule to apply to cases like this one where the indeterminate fact is not the existence of an injury, but rather the identity of a tortfeasor.
BAILEY, J., and BRADFORD, J., concur.