Personal injury claims against the federal government may be brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA provides for a departure from the typical rule in place of sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity typically shields the federal government from lawsuits. It was a doctrine that was adopted from the common law of England where the king was immune from lawsuits. However, under the FTCA, limited claims for personal injury can be brought against the federal government.
It is important to understand the parameters under which a claim can be brought. Claims can be brought if an injured party has experienced an injury either on the property of the federal government or through the acts or omissions of an employee. The injury must have been performed by an actual federal employee within the context of their employment. Be aware of the status of the person against whom you seek to bring suit. The claim for personal injury must be brought under a negligence claim, except in limited circumstances of intentional misconduct, and those seeking monetary damages may generally be allowed to pursue a claim. Finally, the laws of the state where the claim is brought must allow for that type of claim.
When you bring a claim against the federal government you must first file a claim with the particular agency where the injuries are alleged. Typically you have two years to bring your claim and it is possible to use their standard forms to do so. The agency will review your claim for merit and will notify you within six months if they accept or reject the claim. If your claim is rejected, you can file a lawsuit in court. You may or may not want to do that with an acceptance unless the money damages are inadequate or the agency is taking too long to respond. It is possible to settle your claim for good at this stage.
To file a lawsuit you must file it in a federal court where the injury occurred or where the agency is located. Unfortunately you cannot increase the damages from your administrative claim so take care to ask for what you really need from the start. At this point, your claim will be treated like any other lawsuit, so you will have the opportunity to go to trial if necessary or settle beforehand.
It is not advisable to go through the process alone. The law governing federal agencies are complex and then an injured party must also familiarize themselves with the law under which they bringing a claim. Then there are rules for drafting court documents and finally rules of trial for discovery and evidence that need to be mastered at trial. It is advisable to seek the counsel of an attorney immediately.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.