When an act of wrongdoing leads to personal injury or damage to property, the usual course of action is to seek compensation from the responsible party through legal means. In such cases, the injured party typically aims to recover the costs associated with property replacement, medical expenses, and loss of income during the recovery period. In more severe cases resulting in permanent disability or death, the injured party may also pursue compensation to cover future medical care and lost earnings.
However, when personal injury or property damage occurs due to the negligence of a federal employee, the path to legal resolution takes a different route. In these instances, when a federal government employee or agent, acting within the scope of their duties, commits a negligent, wrongful, or injurious act, the liability lies with the U.S. government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
The term “tort” refers to any wrongful act or injury caused by the failure to fulfill a legal obligation. Under U.S. tort law, federal employees are generally not held personally liable for most torts committed during the course of their work. Instead, the Federal Tort Claims Act provides an exclusive avenue for individuals to seek restitution for such tort claims.
Enacted in 1946, the Federal Tort Claims Act allows private parties to recover compensation for certain torts committed by employees or agents of the United States Government. It empowers individuals to hold the U.S. government accountable for wrongdoing committed by its employees or agents in the course of their duties. However, it’s important to note that the FTCA does not cover actions of independent contractors hired by the government, unless they are treated as employees.
Before the implementation of the FTCA, the sovereign immunity doctrine shielded the federal government from prosecution for personal injury and property damage claims, even in cases where federal employees acted negligently or wrongfully. The act eliminates the government’s immunity for certain types of tort claims, placing it in a similar position of liability as a private citizen. If a private citizen would be held liable under tort law for the same act, the federal government can also be held accountable, unless certain limitations outlined in the act apply. It is worth noting that intentional misconduct by federal employees is generally not covered under the Tort Claims Act, with a few exceptions for federal law enforcement officers.
Navigating the Statute of Limitations
The FTCA enables individuals who have suffered injuries caused by federal employees to seek monetary damages. This includes cases of medical malpractice by federally employed healthcare providers. However, it is crucial to be aware of the statute of limitations governing FTCA cases. This timeframe determines how long an injured individual has to file a claim before their right to seek compensation expires.
In FTCA cases, the statute of limitations is set at two years. Therefore, to establish a case of negligence, the injured party must submit a claim to the relevant federal agency within two years of the injury or death occurring. Acting quickly and filing the claim as soon as possible after the incident is of utmost importance.
As an individual seeking justice and restitution from the government, it is essential to understand the intricacies of the Federal Tort Claims Act. By working with experienced attorneys who specialize in suing the government, such as those at Garrity Traina, individuals can navigate the complex legal landscape and pursue their rightful compensation.