Federal Tort Claims Act
In 1946, the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FCTA”) was passed. The FTCA permits citizens to file a lawsuit against the United States for negligence or malpractice. Examples of governmental negligence include:
- VA medical malpractice;
- accident caused by United States Postal Service (USPS) van;
- wrongful death at government construction site;
- injury due to error made by air traffic controller employed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA);
- birth injury during delivery managed by community health center physician or midwife; and
- disability caused by injury on unsafe government property.
The FTCA, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2401(b) and 2671-2680, constitutes a limited waiver by the United States of its sovereign immunity” and allows for a tort suit against the United States under specified circumstances. Under the FTCA, a private citizen may sue for injuries caused by “the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.
Under the FTCA, sovereign immunity is waived if a claim meets six requirements: (1) brought against the United States, (2) for money damages, (3) for injury to or loss of property, or personal injury, or death, (4) caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government, (5) while acting within the scope of his or her office or employment, and (6) under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.
The general public and many lawyers do not know that a lawsuit against the Government cannot proceed unless an administrative claim is submitted to the appropriate federal agency within two (2) years of “accrual.” “Accrual” is a legal term of art that should be defined by an attorney. Additional details about the FTCA can be found in an 84 page guide published by Michael A. Bottar titled “A Desktop Guide to Federal Tort Claims Within the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.”
To discuss your rights under the FTCA, including applicable deadlines, our legal team can be reached at (315) 422-3466, (800) 336-LAWS or firstname.lastname@example.org.