Posts tagged with 'Federal Tort Claims Act'

Commonly Asked Questions About the Federal Tort Claims Act

Sometimes people suffer an injury because of the negligent actions of an employee of the federal government. When this happens, the injured person often wants to know if they are legally allowed to sue that employee or even the federal government itself. When someone suffers an injury at the hands of a federal employee, the Federal Tort Claims Act, or FTCA, will determine whether you can sue. Here are several questions people often have about the Federal Tort Claims Act.

What is the Federal Tort Claims Act?

Enacted in 1948, the FTCA is a federal law that allows private citizens to sue the federal government in some situations. The FTCA allows private citizens to sue the United State government when an employee of the government acts negligently and causes that person harm.

Prior to the passage of the FTCA, private citizens couldn’t sue the government even if government employees acted negligently. This was because of a principle known as “sovereign immunity.” Sovereign immunity is a legal rule that says that state, federal, and tribal governments cannot be sued.
In other words, under the principle of sovereign immunity, people could not sue their government even if the government did something that harmed them. The FTCA is an exception to the general principle of sovereign immunity.

What is a tort?

A “tort” is any kind of wrongful action that leads someone else to suffer a harm for which the law provides a remedy. When a person commits a tort, that person can be sued by anyone who suffers harm or an injury that results from the wrongful action. In other words, a tort is the legal basis for a lawsuit that arises out of a personal injury case.

Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, people can sue the federal government for torts that arise when a federal employee negligently causes someone harm. Torts can arise out of several reasons, but negligence-based torts are the most common.

When can I sue the federal government?

If you suffer an injury at the hands of a federal employee, you can likely file a personal injury lawsuit against the government itself. In general, you can file an FTCA lawsuit if a federal employee negligently does something that leads to you suffering an injury or loss. However, there are some key limitations to this law.

First, the federal employee has to act within the scope of his or her duties when the harm arises.

Second, you can only sue the government if the federal employee acted negligently. Government workers who cause harm because of an intentional action are not covered under the FTCA, even though they might be covered under different federal laws.

Finally, the state in which the action occurred must have laws that allow you to sue the government. Because each state has different laws that apply to these types of situations, it’s vital that you speak to a personal injury attorney if you are considering any type of lawsuit against the federal government.

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So You Want to Sue the Federal Government For Your Injury – Part 2

In our first blog post on suing the federal government, we looked at how the federal tort claims act, or FTCA, covers most of these kinds of personal injury lawsuits. In this post we are going to take a look at some additional issues you need to consider when you are thinking about suing the federal government for your injury.

Making a Claim

When you suffer an injury at the hands of the federal government, you first have to file a claim with the agency responsible. For example, let’s say you visited a national park and suffered injuries as a result of a park employee’s negligence. To try to recover compensation for your injuries, your first step will be to file a claim with the National Park Service. The claim should state a number of important facts, such as the nature and extent of your injuries, the reason you suffered those injuries, and the extent of the involvement of the federal agency or its employees.

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So You Want to Sue the Federal Government For Your Injury – Part 1

In some situations, people suffer injuries after being hurt by those who work for the federal government. When this happens, you might have to file a claim against the federal government itself if you want to recover money for the injuries or harm you suffered. Filing a lawsuit against the federal government is a very different process than filing a lawsuit against an individual or company. This is because the law that covers lawsuits against the federal government, known as the Federal Tort Claims Act, or FTCA, imposes some very specific steps that you have to take. In this first of two blog posts about the FTCA, we’re going to take a close look at some important issues surrounding filing a lawsuit against the federal government.

Government Immunity

Though it seems patently unfair, there is a general principle in the law known as government immunity, or “sovereign immunity.” Under the principle of sovereign immunity, private citizens cannot sue the government unless the government says that they can. The Federal Tort Claims Act is a law adopted by the federal government that states specific circumstances under which a private citizen can file a lawsuit against the federal government. So, unless your personal injury case is specifically identified in the FTCA (or another federal law) as one that allows you to sue the government, you probably can’t.

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