Personal Injury Claims Against the Federal Government aka FTCA Claims
Claims against the Federal Government are called Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) Cases. FTCA claims have unique requirements and limitations. At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we enjoy meeting the challenges presented by FTCA claims in the process of obtaining compensation for our Missouri and Kansas accident injury victims who have been injured and damaged due to the negligence of the federal government. These claims can be both difficult and complex, and we are proud to have had one of our best successes in an FTCA claim.
Examples of FTCA claims include post office slip and falls, motor vehicle collisions with federal employees such as FBI agents, and medical malpractice claims involving the federal government. Whenever your Missouri or Kansas personal injury claim or case involves the federal government, it is likely that your claim arises under and is subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
A lawsuit against the federal government is generally much more complicated than a lawsuit against an individual or other private entity. There are many unique procedural requirements and special time limitations. These lawsuits involve a long list of limitations and hurdles. Not to mention that the federal government can be a very formidable opponent. Not to worry. Personal injury claims and cases always involve making the best out of a bad situation and FTCA claims against the federal government are no exception. The process is the same. Educate yourself about your particular personal injury claim, choose an experienced personal injury attorney, and pursue your claim for injuries and damages.
A short history will help you understand why FTCA claims are so limited. Once upon a time, the doctrine of sovereign immunity prohibited claims and lawsuits against the king. In modern times, you still cannot bring claims or lawsuits against the federal government unless the federal government has given you permission. Specifically, the FTCA permits claims and lawsuits against federal employees acting within the scope of their employment relationship with the federal government. First, it must be determined whether the FTCA allows your particular claim or lawsuit for negligence against a federal employee or federal agency. If not, it will be barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This analysis can be quite complicated and involve many levels.
The purpose of the FTCA is to allow monetary compensation for injuries and death resulting from negligence or wrongful acts or omissions by federal employees. However, this broad permission is limited by a number of important limitations. Some of the most important FTCA limitations are as follows:
1. Federal employees are subject to FTCA claims and lawsuits but independent contractors are not
2. The conduct that was negligent or wrongful must be within the scope of the employment of the federal employee
3. The claim or case must be pursuant to and allowed by the state law (e.g. Missouri or Kansas) where the negligence or wrongful conduct occurred
Notwithstanding the numerous limitations of FTCA claims and lawsuits, millions of dollars are recovered against the federal government for injuries and damages resulting from the negligence of federal employees under the FTCA. Accordingly, valid FTCA claims should be pursued immediately aggressively.
FTCA Claim Administrative Requirements
Before you can bring a lawsuit under the FTCA, you must submit a claim to the federal agency that is responsible for the particular negligence or wrongful act. A claim involving a slip and fall at the post office must be filed with the U.S. Postal Service. Once your administrative claim has been filed, the federal government has a period of time to either admit or deny your claim before you are allowed to file a lawsuit. A standard government claim form, called a Standard Form 95 or SF 95 or simply a "Form 95" is sufficient and simple. You must exhaust your administrative remedies before you can file a lawsuit against the federal government. Some of the most important administrative requirements are:
1. 2 year filing requirement (be aware that the date that the claim arose can involve a complicated legal analysis)
2. Facts and damages requirement (e.g., specific amount of money; sufficient facts to permit investigation)
3. Specific time to file after federal agency rejection (varies depending on whether you file early or near the SOL)
Filing A Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) Lawsuit in Federal Court
An FTCA lawsuit is filed in the U.S. District Court where you reside (e.g., The Western District of Missouri for Kansas City residents) or where your FTCA claim arose. You cannot file an FTCA claim in Missouri or Kansas state court.
Another important and potentially severe limitation of FTCA claims is that you may not seek or recover for punitive damages. Once again, however, rather than seeing the glass half empty, a Missouri or Kansas individual who has been injured due to negligent or wrongful acts of a federal employee or federal agency should take immediate and aggressive action to protect and maximize compensation for actual injuries and damages incurred. Again, personal injury claims always involve making the best of a bad situation.
Once filed the federal court lawsuit process for FTCA claims is similar to the Missouri and Kansas state court process for pursuing personal injury claims.
Resolving An FTCA Claim Through Settlement
Settlement of an FTCA Claim typically occurs during the administrative claims process or after the lawsuit has been filed. New attorneys with the United States Department of Justice are typically assigned once the claim is filed and there may be more opportunity to obtain a fair settlement once suit has been filed.
Do I Need An Attorney For My FTCA Claim?
We will be the first to advise you when we do not believe you need an attorney, and the federal courts have a philosophy to be fair to unrepresented (i.e., pro se) persons and expect attorneys for the federal government to do the same. However, FTCA claims involve highly complicated law and pro se litigants are not likely to successfully navigate the technical FTCA legal defenses, exceptions, and limitations applicable to their claim or lawsuit. Just as with any Missouri or Kansas personal injury claim or lawsuit, if your injuries and damages are significant, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we have proudly represented personal injury victims in Kansas City as well as throughout Missouri and Kansas for more than 15 years. Our experience includes Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claims involving severe personal injury and death. We understand that a personal injury can be devastating. While we cannot turn back the clock for a Missouri or Kansas personal injury victim, we will help you protect your rights and make the best of a bad situation. Contact the experienced FTCA attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys for a FREE consultation with no obligation. 816-471-5111.