The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows the government to be sued in cases of negligence that involve a federal employee. While you are still essentially filing a personal injury claim, when you are suing the government, the process must be handled differently. If you think you have been injured due to carelessness on the part of a government employee, your first step is to determine whether you can make a claim under FTCA.
The FTCA provides numerous exceptions, limitations, and regulations, but there are a few specific guidelines that will help you determine whether your tort claim might be permitted:
- The person that caused the injury has to be directly employed by the federal government.
- The employee in question must have been displaying wrongful or negligent conduct within the capacity of his or her position.
- The laws in the state in which the wrongful conduct took place must permit the claim.
- The injury had to occur due to negligence of the employee.
While there are many other limitations that may apply, if your situation fits within these guidelines, you may be able to file a claim. However, your first step in the process is to file an administrative claim.
Administrative Claim Filing
Under FTCA, you are required to file an administrative claim, known as the Standard Form 95, with the agency at which the employee worked. For example, if an FBI agent was responsible for your injuries, you would file with the FBI. The claims process is somewhat lengthy, but the following is an overview of what you need to do, and what you can expect:
- Statute of Limitations – Your claim must be submitted within two years of the date of your injury.
- Facts and Damages – You must detail the facts of your injury, and include the total amount of the damages that you are trying to recover.
- Agency Response – The agency with which you filed has up to six months to provide you with a ruling. If the ruling given is “admit,” this means your claim was accepted as valid and court hearings may not be required.
- Filing a Lawsuit – If your claim is rejected, or you disagree with the amount the agency agrees to pay, you must file your lawsuit within six months of the decision.
- Delays – If the agency takes longer than six months to make a ruling, you can either choose to move forward with your lawsuit, or continue waiting for a ruling on your administrative claim.
If you decide to file a lawsuit, it will have to be filed in the United States District Court. The rest of the process will follow the normal steps involved with any other personal injury lawsuit, just at a higher court. Keep in mind that you will not be able to add damages to your claim in the lawsuit.
If you believe you are eligible to file a claim under FTCA, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you with the process, especially if you file a lawsuit.