Many places we go in everyday life are owned by the federal government and operated by federal employees, including VA facilities and post offices. If you were injured by a government agency through negligent on-the-job behavior of a federal employee, you may be able to sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA, passed in 1946, is an exception to the common law rule that the government has sovereign immunity and may not be sued. Federal tort claims are not like other civil suits as they are tried in federal court.
Your case will also be presented before a judge, with no jury present, through a bench trial. Suing the government under the FTCA is also more difficult than suing a private citizen or company, as lawsuits can be very lengthy and complicated. This is why it’s essential to hire a personal injury attorney who has experience with the bench trial process and lawsuits under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Claims Allowed by the FTCA
The Federal Tort Claims Act is designed to provide financial compensation for property loss, injury or death “caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the government.” This very broad definition is subject to a great deal of fine print, however, and the Act is known for its complex rules. Some guidelines that limit FTCA claims include:
- Only federal employees may be sued under the Act, not independent contractors (except those treated as employees).
- Wrongful conduct or negligence must have been done in the scope of the employee’s job.
- Only claims of negligence, not intentional misconduct, are allowed under the FTCA, with some exceptions.
- The claim must be based on and allowed by state law in which the negligence or misconduct occurred.
The FTCA Claim Process
Unlike a typical lawsuit claiming negligence in which you usually go straight to court, the process under the FTCA is different. Before suing, you must file a claim with the government agency responsible, such as the U.S. Postal Service. Your administrative claim will then be reviewed. You have two years from the date of the incident to file an administrative claim, but it’s best to do this as soon as possible.
The agency has six months to respond. It’s possible the agency will agree your claim is valid and agree to pay all or some of the damages you seek. If the agency rejects your administrative claim or refuses to pay the full damages you’re seeking, you have six months to file a lawsuit. If you decide to pursue a lawsuit, it will be filed in the United States District Court where you live or where the incident occurred.
Hiring a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney
Given that the Federal Tort Claims Act is very complex, it’s important to hire an experienced attorney to represent you. Because you cannot sue for more than you demanded in the administrative claim (with few exceptions), it’s also wise to seek legal counsel before filing your claim to help determine the kind of damages you may be entitled to.
If you were injured by the negligence of a federal employee or VA hospital, contact Mike Agruss Law, for a free consultation. We are a Chicago injury law firm representing individuals and families who have suffered an injury under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Mike Agruss Law, will handle your case quickly, will advise you every step of the way, and will not hesitate to go to trial for you.
Lastly, Mike Agruss Law, does not get paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-¬fee promise is that simple. Therefore, you have nothing to risk when you hire us—just the opportunity to seek justice.