If you are injured through the negligence or “wrongful act” of a government employee, department, or worker engaged in their job, you can’t simply file a personal injury lawsuit the way you normally would for someone in a different profession. Instead, you must do so through the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

Related Reading: What is the Federal Tort Claims Act and How Does it Affect My Personal Injury Case?

This is because typically the government has said it CAN’T be held liable or sued for injuries, except by going through the Federal Tort Claims Act (and the government makes the rules!). The good news is that the FTCA does allow injury victims to request compensation, and if the government agency responsible denies the request, THEN victims can file a lawsuit. But they HAVE to request compensation through the FTCA first.

Because these types of cases can get extremely complicated, it is always recommended to hire a personal injury lawyer who has experience specifically handling cases against the government rather than try to go it alone.

Who Should File a Claim Under the FTCA?

Private individuals, businesses, and even other government agencies can file claims through the FTCA if the following conditions apply:

  • They suffered financial losses from property damage or injuries (for example, if they have medical bills after a car crash).
  • They suffered those losses because of the negligence of a government employee.
  • The government employee at fault was working at their job when they caused the injury (you can’t sue the government for your injuries if a government worker caused a car wreck on one of their days off).

WATCH: Gary Bruce discusses how claims after police shootings work.

How to File a Claim Under the FTCA

Any injury claim under the FTCA starts with filling out paperwork. In this case, Standard Form 95. You need to fill out this form within two years of the injury-causing accident. In this form, you should provide all the major details of the injury, including the who, what, where, when, and how. It’s also where you list how much compensation you are demanding for your injuries and other damages. But be careful. Once this document is filed, it is difficult to add facts, charge figures, or demand more compensation.

In normal personal injury claims, insurance companies usually prefer to settle rather than go to court, because they worry that a jury or decision maker might award the injury victim more than they would have gotten in a settlement. However, in cases against the government, you cannot get any more money than you request in this form, even if the claim goes to trial. The law prevents it. An experienced injury lawyer can help you determine what your injury may be worth and how much compensation to request.

Where you submit the paperwork depends on which government agency is responsible for your injury. If you were in an auto wreck with a car driven by an FBI agent, then you may need to file the form with the FBI. If you were a victim of medical malpractice at a VA hospital, then you may need to file the form with the VA. If you slipped in a post office, the claim must be filed with the U.S. Postal Service. If it involves the army or Ft Moore (formerly Ft Benning), then the local J.A.G. office is usually involved. And so on.

What Do I Need to Include in an FTCA Injury Claim?

You should provide all evidence to support your claim, meaning you need to include anything that shows you were injured and had financial losses as a result.

For example, after a car crash caused by a government employee, you would include:

  • Your medical records showing what injuries you got in the crash
  • Statements from your doctor describing how much time and treatment you need(ed) to fully recover
  • An itemized list of your medical bills resulting from the crash
  • Proof of ownership for your car
  • Photographs of the damage to your car
  • At least two itemized estimates for repairing the damage to your car
  • A copy of the police report filed after the crash

How Long Does an FTA Injury Claim Take?

You should, but will not always, receive notice from the responsible government agency that your claim has been received. If the agency agrees they are at fault for your injuries and your demand for compensation is reasonable, they may pay a settlement. However, this is rare. Most of the time, the government will want more information. They also like to take sworn statements. It is always good to have legal help in this process if the claim is significant.

If you do not hear from the government agency in six months after filing, you can consider the claim denied even if you have not received an official denial letter.

What Happens If My Claim is Denied?

If your claim is denied, you have two options. You can file a request for reconsideration, or you can file a lawsuit in the appropriate District Court. If you decide to pursue a lawsuit, you must do so within six months of your claim being denied or you will lose all chances of receiving compensation forever.

Some exceptions may be made if the reason for any delay in filing was beyond your control, but these are very rare. If you want to succeed with getting an exception, you will need an experienced lawyer to fight to prove why an exception should be granted.

When You Need to File an FTCA Claim, Get Gary Bruce

Lawsuits filed against the government are very different than lawsuits filed against private individuals or businesses, and the requirements are very different, including the forms that have to be filed, the deadlines involved, and even how trials are conducted. It is not recommended to try to proceed without a lawyer.

At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, we know how to navigate the difficult laws surrounding injury claims against the government, and we will fight to get our clients the compensation they deserve when they’re injured through no fault of their own. These cases are tricky. They require time. Do not wait until the last minute to get advice.

Contact our firm today for a free case evaluation to see how we can help you.