Sovereign Immunity and Tort Claims

The United States is governed by a representative democratic system of government, not a king. However, the U.S. government is similar to a monarchy in one important respect. The principle of sovereign immunity applies at all levels, protecting the government from many lawsuits filed by private citizens just as it once protected a king from legal action by subjects. Because the government makes the laws, a citizen can only sue the government when the government says it is okay.

Fortunately, one of the principles guiding United States governance is that people or entities who cause harm to others through their actions should be held accountable. Therefore, the Federal Tort Claims Act gives citizens the ability to file lawsuits against employees of federal agencies when the negligent actions of those employees caused harm, as a personal injury lawyer, like from the Law Office of Daniel Wright, can explain.

How Do You File a Claim Under the FTCA?

The first step in the process is to file an administrative claim against the agency in question. You can do this by filling out a standard form provided by the Department of Justice. You must include the amount of damages you are seeking as well as the facts of your case in as much detail as possible.

You have two years from the date of your injury in which to file your claim. The agency must respond within six months. If it admits your claim, i.e., accepts that an employee did something to cause your injury, you do not need to go to court, and the agency will pay at least some of the damages you asked for.

The agency may also deny your claim. If your claim is denied, or the agency fails to rule within six months, you then have the right to file a lawsuit.

What Are Some of the FTCA Requirements?

Filing a lawsuit under FTCA can be very difficult because there are many exceptions that apply. Generally speaking, FTCA only applies to negligence by a federal employee, not intentional misconduct. You cannot file a lawsuit under FTCA unless the negligent conduct happened within the scope of employment, and FTCA only applies to federal employees. It does not apply to independent contractors or state employees, although your state may have a similar law that applies to the latter.

Filing a lawsuit under FTCA can be very tricky and time-consuming. An attorney can determine whether your case meets its many requirements or is excluded under its limitations. Contact a law office for a consultation, and they can go over the intricacies of the law with you as it applies to your case.