Need to Sue the Government?
Not every personal injury case involves suing an individual or a business. For instance, medical malpractice at the hands of a VA doctor, an auto accident in a collision with some federal agents, or slipping and falling on government property could all potentially become personal injury cases against the government. Many people are under the misconception that the government has immunity, and cannot be sued by private citizens. While the federal and state governments enjoy some limited types of immunities, the Federal Tort Claims Act permits suing the government in specific cases. Is your case one of them? Here are the basic requirements for a FTCA claim against the government.
Only Federal Employees
The Federal Tort Claims Act permits private citizens to sue federal employees, but not independent contractors hired by the government (unless a contractor is purported to actually be an employee). Many more individuals are actually not technically employees and are in fact contractors than most people believe, so even if the individual against whom you wish to bring a claim seems to obviously be an employee, ensure that is his or her actual designation.
Filed an Administrative Claim
Before bringing suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the claimant is required to file an administrative claim with the government organization at which the allegedly negligent employee works. This can be a long and difficult process that can last more than a year, and the help of an lawyer can be necessary in moving things along to get to the next step.
Whatever tortious act (that is, the wrongful act that caused the harm) the claimant is claiming, that act must have been committed within the scope of the government employee’s employment. Although this may seem like it would be a simple determination, this point is often contested. For instance, if the employee was getting lunch on her company-assigned lunch hour, is that within the scope of his or her employment? What about the employee sitting in her car while on a break?
State Law Basis
In order to sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the law of the state where the tort occurred must permit the suit, and it is that state’s law on which the claimant’s claim must be based. The legal basis cannot be from another state (like where the claimant lives, if elsewhere), not even the state where the government agency was located.
Finally, your claim must be based on negligence, a claim in which the claimant alleges that the defendant had a duty to behave with due care, acted unreasonably, and therefore caused harm to the claimant. While you can bring suit against some federal employees for intentional misconduct torts (like assault or false imprisonment), you generally cannot do so through the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Are you considering making a personal injury claim? At Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian in Tampa, our experienced personal injury lawyers are available to assist you. Call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 for a consultation today.