FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT CASES
If you have been injured by the negligence of employees acting on behalf of the United States, you may file a civil suit against the Federal Government claiming damages for the alleged personal injury, pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”).
For the Federal Government to be vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of its employees and agents causing injury, the employee or agent must be acting within the scope of his or her employment. Federal Government employees are not personally liable for any injury caused to a person due to acts or omissions done by them while acting within the course of their employment. Therefore, the United States is always the named plaintiff in a FTCA case and individual employee is not sued.
Typically, a Federal Tort Claims Act case may be brought against employees of federal agencies, postal employees, defense personnel, government teacher, government health care providers etc and can involve any kind of issues including medical malpractice, personal injury, product liability, negligence, wrongful death etc. An injured party must first exhaust all available administrative remedies with the concerned federal agency or department prior to filing a lawsuit against the government. The personal injury claim must be filed with the federal agency using Claim Form No. 95, within two years from the date of the injury.
Claim Form 95 along with necessary attachments must be sent to the concerned administrative agency to notify the Federal Government regarding the FTCA claims filed against it. An incomplete form containing inadequate information regarding the alleged injury or damages claimed can lead to a dismissal of claims in court. It is important to correctly determine and state the amount of damages claimed in Claim Form 95 because the amount cannot be increased at a later stage. Once a claim is properly filed with the agency, the Federal Government has six months to investigate and reject or accept the claims. If six months have elapsed without a rejection or acceptance of the claims by the agency, the claimant may file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court.
In FTCA cases the law of the State where the cause of action arose generally applies. Likewise, the maximum amount of damages claimable is also determined by the maximum relief available under the applicable State law. However, punitive damages are not allowed in FTCA cases. There is no right to jury trial in an FTCA action. The FTCA lays down detailed procedures to be followed in a lawsuit against the Federal Government and failure to fulfill procedural requirements relating to filing and trial procedure can lead to dismissal of the action.
It is therefore necessary to have a qualified, able and experienced lawyer by your side in order to ensure that your injury is fairly compensated. Scott D. Hughes, a Federal personal injury lawyer, has the specialized knowledge and experience needed to maximize your FTCA claim. Contact the Law Office of Scott D. Hughes for a free initial consultation.