Filing Personal Injury Claims Against the Government
Were you injured on federal government property? If you believe that the injury was caused by the negligence of the government, then you should talk to personal injury lawyers to explore legal options. Under The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), any US citizen who was injured on federal government property or due to the negligence of a federal government employee can file a personal injury claim against the federal government. The federal government was immune from such claims previously.
FTCA Claims are Governed by Special Rules and Limitations
Personal injury claims against the government are governed by a set of special rules and limitations. Some of the rules and limitations are:
- The first thing you need to understand is that recovery of claims is limited to a specified amount.
- Although FTCA procedures are governed by federal laws, state laws control the substantive laws. This means that the claim must be permitted by the law of state in which the injury occurred.
- You can only sue federal government employees, not independent contractors working for the federal government.
- The defendant must have done the negligent or wrongful conduct within the scope of his or her employment.
- In general, only claims of negligence are entertained, although claims of intentional misconduct can be filed against federal law enforcement officers in some cases.
Do not be discouraged by these limitations. The federal government pays out millions of dollars to claimants every year. If you have a valid claim, you could be one of them.
How to File an FTCA Administrative Claim
The process of suing the federal government for negligence doesn’t follow the same path as a normal personal injury lawsuit. It begins by filing a claim with the federal agency that is responsible for the alleged misconduct. While the federal agency is reviewing the claim, it is referred to as an administrative claim.
The most commonly used way to file an administrative claim is by filling out the Standard Form 95 (or SF 95). This form is not required to file a claim, but it offers an easy and convenient way.
Here is an outline of the FTCA administrative claim processes:
- You must file your claim within two years of the day the injury occurred. Since the exact date may become a legal issue the longer you wait, you should file your claim as soon as possible.
- Your claim must include the exact amount of damages in terms of United States dollars along with all the facts to prove your claim.
- Once you submit your claim, the federal agency will have six months to give you their decision. If the agency admits your claim and offers an out of court settlement, agreeing to some or all of the damages you have demanded.
- If the federal agency denies your claim or does not agree to pay all the damages you have demanded, then you will have six months to file a lawsuit beginning from the date on which the decision was mailed to you.
- You do not have to go to the court even if the federal agency fails respond to you in the six-month period. There is no time limit to file a lawsuit as long as they are still considering your claim. Your six months to file a lawsuit begins only after the agency mails you their decision.
- You will be eligible to file a lawsuit only after you have exhausted your administrative remedies, meaning you have gone through all required procedures.
- The lawsuit must be filed in the United States District Court, which is what a federal court is formally called. You can file the lawsuit either in the district you live or in the district you were injured.
Why You Should Hire a Reputed Lawyer
The FTCA is a highly complex law. Although federal courts generally to considerable lengths to be fair to unrepresented plaintiffs, you will have a hard time understanding all the tricky defenses and exceptions put forth by the lawyers hired by the federal agency. For this reason, you should hire the best personal injury lawyers you can find. Otherwise, you will have very little chance of winning the case.