Injured by a government employee? The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) might be able to provide you with compensation for your injuries. Sovereign immunity typically applies to bar citizens from suing the government in an effort to protect the monarchy, but in recent history, acts such as the FTCA allow for certain lawsuits to be filed against federal employees while acting within the scope of their employment. The FTCA was passed shortly after a B-52 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945 in order to pay out damages to the families of the victims. It can be far more complicated and frustrating than filing a lawsuit against a private citizen, but the right FTCA attorney will know what strategy to take.
The right to file suit comes from a temporary waiver of sovereign immunity, stated in the FTCA as follows:
“The United States is liable . . . in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances, but is not liable for interest prior to judgment or for punitive damages.” 28 U.S.C. 2674.
“Federal courts have jurisdiction over such claims, but apply the law of the state “where the act or omission occurred.” 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)
The FTCA covers situations such as slip and falls in government offices or property owned or maintained by the government, car accidents or truck accidents caused by government employees, and medical malpractice (doctor negligence) commited by the doctor of a federal agency such as the Veterans Administration (a VA hospital or other medical facility).
When filing a claim under the FTCA there are certain guidelines you must follow in order to pursue a successful administrative claim. You must:
1. File within two years;
2. Include all the facts and monetary damages in your claim;
3. After agency response (six month period), you have an additional six months to file a proper lawsuit; and
4. Depending on the disposition of your claim, you may then sue if ruling from agency is not in your favor.
The administrative burden, as well as the complexity of filings, typically calls for the assistance of a licensed attorney to ensure that you are provided the full compensation for damages you deserve. If you, or someone you love, has been injured by the carelessness of a government employee, or in a government building, contacting a FTCA attorney is the first step towards pursuing a suit under the FTCA.