Can You Recover Damages from the Government for Negligence?
If you have been injured in an accident on government property, or because of the carelessness or negligence of a government employee, how do you go about seeking compensation from the government for your losses? Perhaps you’ve heard the term “governmental tort immunity” tossed around…does that mean that a governmental entity can never be sued for negligence or carelessness? The answer is no…governments can be defendants in personal injury claims, but such proceedings are tricky.
Suing the Federal Government
What if you were injured in an automobile accident when a mail carrier ran a stop sign? What if your VA doctor or nurse failed to properly diagnose an illness or injury? Fortunately, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows private individuals to sue for damages for personal injury caused by federal employees. Here are the general guidelines regarding when you can file a claim under the FTCA:
- You cannot sue independent contractors under the FTCA, only federal employees. (You may file a private action against an independent contractor, though.)
- You can only file claims based on negligence, not on intentional misconduct.
- The negligence must have occurred while the defendant was performing acts that were within the scope of his duty.
- The claim must be allowed under the state law in the state where the injury occurred.
Personal Injuries Involving State or Local Governments
As a general rule, when you have a personal injury claim involving a state, county or municipal government employee, you have to file a notice of claim within a certain time period after your injury. Most states have laws that grant governmental bodies some level of immunity to liability, in exchange for the creation of a process to allow you to administratively seek compensation for personal injury claims. You must, however, carefully follow the procedures set forth in statutes, or you risk losing your right to obtain damages for your losses.
Contact Weber & Nierenberg
We offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has suffered a personal injury, including people hurt in an accident. Call our office toll free at 1-866-288-6010 or send us an e-mail to set up an appointment.