Suing a private citizen or corporation in a personal injury claim is a common occurrence today. But suing a federal government employee for the same wrongdoing is complicated by the doctrine of “sovereign immunity”. Simply put, citizens cannot sue a federal government entity without its permission. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is a complex law that can help personal injury claimants circumvent the obstacles of sovereign immunity and recover damages from a Federal government employee.
What cases are eligible for the FTCA?
In 1946, FTCA set new procedures for resolving personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death claims against a federal government employee. For your claim to be permitted under this law, you must be able to prove that your injuries were caused by the wrongful (or negligent) actions of federal government employees.
Accidents involving government vehicles are a common claim under this law. Someone injured by military vehicles, passenger vans, tactical vehicles, postal trucks, and fleet vehicles belonging to federal agencies could be eligible for this claim.
What can I do if I am a member of the military?
Unfortunately, the FTCA has a specific doctrine that can make it difficult for military servicemembers to file suit. The “Feres Doctrine” comes from a 1950 court case of Feres v. United states that held an active member of the armed forces was prohibited from bringing a tort suit against the federal government due to injuries sustained during military service. This caveat is a frustrating impediment to claims of medical malpractice.
However, there are still scenarios when active or non-active-duty military members can move forward with a case. Recently, an active-duty military member on a Georgia military base was struck by an automobile as he was a pedestrian on base and successfully sued for damages. Thus, it is possible to pursue FTCA suits, but the complexity means you won’t want to take the case on alone.
What is the process for filing suit under the FTCA?
If you believe your case qualifies, you should contact a personal injury attorney right away. The process is complex and difficult to navigate alone. Your attorney will then file an administrative claim, known as Standard Form 95, against the agency that is to blame for your injury. For example, someone hit by a postal truck will file against the US Postal Service.
As with any personal injury claim, the file should contain a detailed account of the accident as well as the damages you are seeking. The federal statute requires this claim to be filed in under 2 years. The agency has six months to respond to this request by agreeing to or rejecting the claim. If you are not satisfied with their response (for example, they do not pay enough in damages or reject the claim outright) your attorney will likely file a lawsuit.
What can I recover for my personal injury claim?
Unlike other personal injury cases, claimants cannot sue the Federal government for punitive damages (damages that are meant specifically as a punishment rather than an expense). You may be able to pursue other costs such as medical bills and lost wages.
Representation for FTCA Claims
Contact our Fayetteville personal injury attorneys today for a free assessment of your case. Attorneys’ fees are reduced by 20% before the suit and 25% for litigation in FTCA cases. Call 910-401-3356 or complete our online form to get started today.