The answer to this question has its roots in America’s origins as a colony of Great Britain. Under a concept known as “sovereign immunity,” subjects of The Crown were prohibited from suing the king. These days, “sovereign immunity” has transformed into a law called the Federal Tort Claims Act, which essentially says you cannot sue the government unless the government says you can sue the government.
Crystal clear, right?
Most states and local governments (cities and counties, for example) have their own versions of the Federal Tort Claims Act, although the details will be different. The most important thing to know if you are injured by a government employee or while on government property is that the rules are different and you must follow the rules exactly to maintain any hope of getting compensation for your injuries.
Here are some of the most important requirements when trying to sue the federal government for an injury under the Federal Tort Claims Act:
- You can’t go straight to court. You must first file an administrative claim with the federal agency involved. For example, if you were involved in a traffic accident with a U.S. Postal Service truck, then you must file your claim with the U.S. Postal Service. You can use Standard Form 95 to file this claim, though you don’t have to.
- You must file your administrative claim within two years of the date your claim arose. The best strategy is to file the claim as soon as possible.
- Your administrative claim must include enough facts about the incident to allow the federal agency to investigate your claim, and you must also state the exact amount of financial compensation you believe you should receive.
- You can file a lawsuit against the government (assuming you meet other requirements) if the government agency rejects your claim or offers you a settlement amount you believe is unfair.
Government tort claims are a complex area of personal injury law, and it is highly advisable to retain a personal injury lawyer if you have suffered a serious injury that involves a government employee or government property.
Contact Shaffer & Gaier
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, Shaffer & Gaier can help. To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office online, call our Philadelphia office location at 215-751-0100, or call our New Jersey office at 856-429-0970.