An Overview Of The Federal Tort Claims Act
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is a law passed in 1946 that allows private parties who are injured by a person acting on behalf of the United States (that is, federal workers) to file suit against the U.S. and the relevant agency. The reason this law is important is that historically, the average person would not be permitted to file suit against the United States due to a doctrine called sovereign immunity. This law partially waives sovereign immunity so that people can seek compensation for injuries.
If you have been injured by someone working for the federal government, you have the right to file suit for the harm you suffered, though the process can be complex. A Birmingham FTCA claims attorney from Goldasich, Vick & Fulk can take point navigating through the legal process, and ensure that your rights are protected while you seek compensation.
Certain Criteria Must Be Present
The normal personal injury lawsuit procedure is for an injured plaintiff to file suit against the person or entity that they believe caused their injuries, and if they can establish that the harm occurred directly because of the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff can recover damages. If the (allegedly) negligent person was a government employee, however, the question of whether they can file suit in the first place is key; rather than the individual, fault is ascribed to the U.S. government.
Because fault is laid at the door of the federal government, there are several exceptions and clarifications as to who can file suit and why. The FTCA does not permit every single case to go forward; rather, a case may be brought against the government if certain things are true:
- The government employee must have been acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the incident;
- The circumstances of the case are such that if a private person acted in the same negligent or wrongful manner, their injured victim would have a case; and
- The type of harm must have been “damage to [or] loss of property, personal injury or death.”
If your case does not involve one or more of these criteria, the FTCA will not apply.
Know Your Rights
In addition to the hard and fast rules for filing a FTCA claim, know that there are regulations about the type of compensation available, and an injured victim must accept these, or it may not be worth the time and trouble of a lawsuit. For example, the FTCA allows people who were injured to seek compensation, but only for negligent acts; actions motivated by intentional malice are not covered. In addition, only money damages are obtainable in these types of lawsuits; sometimes in standard personal injury cases, equitable remedies may also be available, but not when the federal government is the defendant.
Once you have an understanding of your options, you can file your claim, though the level of detail required means that having an attorney on your side can be helpful. Once submitted, the relevant federal agency has six months to respond – either by denying responsibility, offering to settle, or requesting more information. If they ultimately deny or ignore your claim, you then have the right to file suit in the appropriate court.
Have Questions? Our Attorneys Can Help
If you have been injured due to the negligence or wrongful act of a federal employee or agency, it can feel far too overwhelming to try and file suit for the harm you have suffered. Our Birmingham FTCA claim attorneys at Goldasich, Vick & Fulk have handled these matters before, and will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today at (205) 731-2566 to schedule a consultation.