Filing a tort claim against the federal government can be a complex process, but understanding the steps involved is crucial to seeking compensation for damages caused by federal government negligence. In this guide, we will provide a step-by-step overview of how to file a government tort claim through the Federal Tort Claims Act. Whether you’re seeking redress or considering legal action against the federal government, this guide will equip you with essential knowledge.
Understanding the FTCA and Government Tort Claims
The Federal Tort Claims Act is a federal law that lets individuals to seek compensation for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death caused by the negligence of federal government employees. Under the FTCA, the government waives its sovereign immunity, enabling individuals to file claims against federal agencies. Certain exceptions and limitations apply, and not all claims are eligible under the FTCA.
Initial Steps in Making a Claim
The process of filing a government tort claim has many steps:
Gather Information: Collect all relevant documents and evidence, including incident reports, medical records, photographs, and any other supporting materials that establish the government’s negligence and your damages.
Submit a Standard Form 95: The first formal step is to complete and submit Standard Form 95, also known as the “Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death.” This form details the incident, your injuries, and the compensation sought. Make sure that the form is completed accurately and include all necessary supporting documentation.
Timely Filing: The FTCA has strict deadlines, known as the statute of limitations, for filing a tort claim against the federal government. Generally, you must file your administrative claim within two years of the incident. Failing to meet this deadline may result in the claim being barred.
Evaluating the Government’s Response
After filing your claim, the federal agency has a specified period to investigate and respond. They may accept your claim and offer a settlement, deny the claim outright, or remain silent.
Here’s what to expect:
Settlement Offer: If the government accepts liability, they may propose a settlement. Carefully review the offer and consult with legal counsel to ensure it adequately compensates you for your damages.
Claim Denial: If the government denies your claim, you can file a lawsuit. This leads us to the next section.
Lawsuit Against the Government
If your government tort claim is denied or remains unanswered after six months, you can pursue legal action by filing a lawsuit. Here’s what you need to know:
Filing a Lawsuit: To sue the federal government, you have to file a complaint in federal court. It is essential to comply with all court rules and procedures during this stage. Having an experienced attorney is highly recommended to maximize your chances of success.
Working with an Attorney: While it is possible to file a government tort claim as an individual, it is advisable to involve an attorney, particularly when pursuing a lawsuit. Skilled attorneys who specialize in government tort claims have the knowledge and expertise to navigate the complexities of the FTCA, gather evidence, assess damages, negotiate with the government, and advocate for your rights in court.
Filing a government tort claim through the FTCA is a multi-step process that requires careful attention to detail, adherence to deadlines, and a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework. By following the outlined steps and seeking appropriate legal guidance when necessary, you can increase your chances of successfully obtaining compensation for damages caused by the federal government’s negligence. Remember, engaging experienced attorneys who specialize in government tort claims can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the complexities of the process and maximizing your chances of a favorable outcome.