Federal Tort Claims GavelHow do you know if you have a federal tort claim? First, you have to know what a federal tort claim is. Let’s start with the basics. Tort law is the area of civil law that allows an individual who has been harmed by another person’s wrongful act to seek compensation to redress the wrong that has been done to them. Most people refer to this as personal injury or wrongful death law.

Many decades ago, employees of the U.S. government were protected from these kinds of lawsuits, so victims of the negligent actions of a Veterans Administration doctor, postal worker, or custodian in a federal building, for example, would have no recourse for damages. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) of 1946, however, individuals harmed by federal employees can file a claim for damages in federal court.

Whether you have a personal injury claim or a federal tort claim depends on where you were injured and who was responsible for your injuries. There are many complicated exceptions and limitations under FTCA, so it is important that you talk to an experienced federal tort claims attorney if you were injured on federal property or by a U.S. government employee.

Examples of Federal Tort Claims Cases

A federal tort claim can result from the same kinds of negligence and carelessness as a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Examples of when these incidents would fall under the FTCA include the following:

  • Vehicle accidents. Drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonable and safe manner. When a driver fails in that duty—by speeding, driving recklessly, driving while impaired, falling asleep, etc.—and another person is injured or killed, that driver can be held accountable. When the driver is a federal employee who is performing job duties at the time of the crash, the government can be sued in a federal tort claim. Examples of vehicle crashes involving federal employees include postal vehicles, government cars, national park vehicles, and FBI vehicles.
  • Medical malpractice. Health care workers in Veterans Administration (VA) facilities are employees of the federal government. Veterans who are injured or killed by acts of medical malpractice in a VA hospital could have a federal tort claim against the government. To prove medical malpractice, the plaintiff must show that their injury or negative outcome was caused by a negligent action or omission by a hospital, doctor, or other health care professional.
  • Slip and fall. Property owners and managers have a duty to maintain a safe environment for visitors. Spilled liquids, ice, torn carpet, uneven flooring, and exposed cords and wires create slipping and tripping hazards that can lead to serious injuries. If you slip and fall in a federal building, post office, VA medical facility, or other U.S. government building, you could have a federal tort claim.
  • Premises liability. Along with slip and falls, other types of accidents can happen when a federal building is not properly cleaned or maintained. Being hit by an unsecured object, falling off an unsafe balcony or down broken stairs, being trapped in a fire by a lack of emergency exits, or being shocked by unsafe wiring are all examples of potential premises liability claims if they happen on federal property.

Along with serious injury, claims can also be brought on behalf of a loved one who was killed in any of these types of accidents.

Federal Tort Claims Act Exceptions and Restrictions

There are numerous complicated limitations and restrictions on federal tort law claims. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your claim to determine its validity, but a few exceptions include:

  • Federal contractors. Independent contractors hired by the federal government cannot be sued under FTCA.
  • Scope of employment. The federal employee must have been acting in the scope of their employment when the wrongful or negligent conduct occurred.
  • Intentional harm. FTCA does not cover intentional actions on the part of an employee. For example, if a postal worker assaults you, you would not be able to sue the government for damages but might have a personal claim or grounds for a criminal complaint.
  • State law. Claims are based on the law of the state where the negligence occurred.

You should not waste any time trying to determine if you have a valid claim or not on your own. Call 877-GET-PETE and find out!

Trust Your Federal Tort Claim to Pete

Tennessee has a lot of personal injury law firms, but not all of them accept federal tort claims. Save time and learn about all of your options for compensation by going directly to Pete Olson Injury Law. When you GET PETE!, you will get a knowledgeable, committed legal team ready to fight for justice. Fill out our contact form on this page or call 877-GET-PETE right away!