Federal Tort Claims Act FAQ
Exactly what is the Federal Tort Claims Act?
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is federal law that allows individuals to bring an administrative claim or lawsuit, against the United States government for injuries. Usually, the government operates in sovereign immunity against lawsuits, but the FTCA is an exception to this immunity. Basically, the federal government can be sued when its employees operate in a job that is performed in the same manner as in the private sector. The FTCA is not applicable to conduct that is uniquely governmental, that is, incapable of being performed by a private individual.
Generally, the FTCA applies to all claims of federal government negligence, such as being struck by government vehicle, slip and fall on federal property, or medical malpractice at military facilities. The FTCA is complex law, underscoring unique legal statuses of people who receive care or services from the federal government. The government's willingness to be sued is limited by several exceptions and whether you can actually prevail on a claim is determined by several factors. Some of the factors are as follows: claimant's status at time of the injury or negligence; the status of the negligent person; and the place where the negligence or injury occurred.
Who is a FTCA claim brought against?
FTCA claims are brought against the United States government. These claims hold the government responsible depending on the status of the person who has committed the wrongdoing. In order to be successful, the person who committed the wrongdoing must be a federal employee acting in the scope of their employment. Federal employees can be classified as military personnel or DOD (Department of Defense) civilians.
This does not include independent contractors, who are usually not directly supervised by the government. In this case, your remedy would be to sue the person or their agency directly, rather than file a claim against the government, unless the contractor is performing a personal services contract with the government, in which case the FTCA may apply.
How do I file a claim under the FTCA?
A Standard Form 95 must be used to present claims against the United States under the FTCA (Federal Tort Claims Act) for personal injury, property damage, or death allegedly caused by a federal government employee's wrongful act, negligence, or omission occurring within the scope of the employee's employment. The form must be complete and include a sum for monetary damages for injury to or loss of property, personal injury, or death. If a sum is not specified in block 12d, and in accompanying information, the claim will not be considered valid. Submitted FTCA claims monetary awards should be a generous estimate, as claimants may not receive more than the amount claimed on Form 95. It can be decided that the claimant's recovery is less, but not more.
The FTCA claim must be presented within two years after the injured person becoming aware of the injury and must be presented to the appropriate federal agency. These claims must be filed with the federal agency whose employee's conduct caused the injury. Each agency can provide information on where to file claims.
Once the claim is filed with the involved agency, there is a six month period for which the agency has to investigate the claim and attempt to settle the case. If the claim is denied or the agency takes no action to settle within six months, the claimant may file a lawsuit against the United States in Federal District Court. A claimant may also file a case with the Federal District Court, if they are not satisfied with the settlement or decision by the agency. You have six months from the date of certified letter from the government agency to file the lawsuit against the United States or you will lose your right to do so, forever. Finally, pursuant to the provisions of the FTCA, cases are tried before a judge, without jury, as claimants are not entitled to a jury trial.
Contact Our Federal Tort Claims Lawyers Today
If you or a family member has suffered a serious, permanent injury, or loss related to a government malpractice or negligence, you may want to talk to a Federal Tort Claims lawyer. We provide consultations to help determine if you have a valid FTCA case.
Our firm is based in Washington, D.C. and can handle FTCA claims against the United States government. More often than not, the final decision makers in the government often are based in or near Washington D.C and our expertise in this area is top notch.