There was once a time, not long ago, when you couldn't sue the federal government for injury because of a legal doctrine known as sovereign immunity. However, in 1945, a pilot crashed a B-25 bomber into the Empire State Building in foggy skies. Several months later, due in part to this highly publicized event, the U.S. government offered money to families of the victims.
The FTCA And Its Effect On You
Thereafter, in 1946, a federal stature was created called the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which constituted a limited waiver of sovereign immunity and permitted citizens to pursue claims against the government for injuries, death or damage to property caused by a federal employee, or due to an accident on federal property.
The catch was that you needed to prove that a) the federal employee was within the scope of his employment; b) his negligent conduct (not an intentional act) caused the accident and; c) if you could find a similar lawsuit successfully litigated against a private party. Typical examples of lawsuits against the federal government would be a person hit by a postal truck or someone slipping and falling at a federal building.
What You Need To Do To Succeed
In current times, the federal government pays out millions of dollars each year. Yet, like any good bureaucracy, they make the victims jump through hoops. To succeed, you must:
- File an SF95 claim form (specialized federal form) within two years of the accident with the federal agency responsible for your situation, and you must include as many facts as possible and the exact amount you want in damages.
- After submitting your claim, the agency has to issue a ruling within six months of receipt of your SF95.
- If you have a strong case, the federal agency may admit your claim and offer to compensate you in full or in part.
- If the federal agency refuses to compensate you or rejects your claim, you then need to file your lawsuit within six months from the date when the decision was, or should have been, mailed to you.
Suing the United States is a complicated process and definitely a lot more work than suing a private person or company. For this reason, it's generally a good idea to engage the services of an experienced lawyer as early as possible. Many attorneys, even those attorneys who have practiced for years, are not familiar with the rules of federal court and have never brought a lawsuit against the United States of America.
Our attorneys have vast experience in these cases and the skill set to succeed. If you have been injured by a federal or government employee, call the attorneys at Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP: 212-571-7171. You can also reach us by email.