The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is the law that allows injured people to sue a federal government entity for damages in a personal injury claim caused by a federal employee acting in an official capacity.
However, the government looks to protect itself, so suing a government entity is much more difficult than suing a private individual or a company. In many situations, it may not be possible at all, due to a policy called “sovereign immunity” that prevents the government from being sued.
There are more hoops to jump through if you want to successfully get the compensation you deserve, which is why it’s important to hire a lawyer familiar with the FTCA after an injury involving a federal employee that wasn’t your fault.
What Counts as a Government Employee or Entity When Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
For the purposes of an FTCA lawsuit, government employees might include employees of any federal department, branch, or agency, or anyone acting on behalf of those groups in an official capacity. This also includes employees of federal public defender offices as well as members of the U.S. armed forces, including the National Guard, if they were engaged in certain training or duty activities when the accident occurred.
Common examples include:
- Medical malpractice committed by a doctor at a VA hospital
- Slip, trip, or fall injury that happens at a post office
- Car accident caused by an FBI agent
What About State or Local Governments?
The FTCA only applies to federal employees and organizations. Injuries caused by government employees on the local level, such as police officers, or on local government property, such as public parks, schools, libraries, city halls, courthouses, and so on, often have similar legal protection or immunity from liability. However, the laws for non-federal government bodies are different from the FTCA and also different from each other. There will be different rules about how to file a claim, and different rules for how long you have before you won’t be able to get compensation anymore, depending on who is liable.
For example, the time frame in which you can legally file a lawsuit against a city is much shorter than the time fame in which you can file a lawsuit against a state, which is shorter than the time frame in which you can file a lawsuit against the federal government.
If you’ve been injured and a government entity or employee may be at fault, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on who is liable, the timeframe in which you can file a claim could be as short as six months.
If you aren’t sure whether your claim falls under the FTCA or not, we recommend contacting our firm for a free, no-obligation case consultation today. The sooner you can get in contact with a lawyer and officially file your injury claim, the better. These timelines are deliberately short to protect the government rather than the victims, and we want to make sure you get the compensation you’re entitled to.
Do I Have a FTCA Claim?
Since the federal government can technically only be sued in circumstances in which it allows itself to be sued, there are very strict requirements for what type of cases can be allowed to go forward under the FTCA.
If your case fails to meet all the requirements, you may be out of luck in trying to get compensation from the federal government, which is why we always recommend speaking to an attorney if a government entity is involved.
However, the three most basic requirements your injury claim must meet are as follows:
- The injury must have been caused by negligence. The federal government cannot be held liable for intentional injuries caused by workers.
- You must have been injured due to the negligence of a federal employee. The federal government cannot be held liable for the negligence of hired contractors. However, an exception may be made if you can successfully argue that the contractor was treated as an employee and thus misclassified.
- The federal employee must have been acting within the scope of their employment. For example, if a federal employee caused a car accident while out on their lunch break, you could not name the federal government as a defendant in the lawsuit.
How Do I File a FTCA Claim?
The claim must be filed within two years of the injury occurring. This begins by filing an administrative claim with the requested settlement amount through the federal agency responsible for the injury.
We recommend hiring a personal injury lawyer to help determine a fair settlement request, and to ensure the paperwork is properly filled out and submitted on time and to the correct office.
The government then has six months to respond, either by agreeing to pay the settlement, or rejecting the claim. If you receive a rejection, you then have an additional six months in which to file a lawsuit.
Lawsuits will be conducted in the U.S. District Court where the injury occurred.
Lawsuits Against the Government are Complicated. Let Us Help.
At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, we are well aware of the many obstacles the federal government puts in place to prevent injury victims from getting the compensation they deserve, and we also know how to overcome them.
After an injury caused by a federal employee or agency, don’t let red tape keep you from getting the financial help you need. Contact our Georgia personal injury firm today for a free consultation.