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Suing the Government: the Federal Tort Claims Act

For many years, the default rule was that you could not sue the government for any torts. A tort is a claim that you bring in court for a personal injury, property damage or wrongful death. In 1946, Congress enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act which removed government immunity is a handful of situations. Bringing a suit against the federal government entails two specific types of law.

First, the FTCA creates the procedural rules that allow you to bring a lawsuit. There are specific deadlines and requirements in order for your case to be accepted. You cannot win your case by railing against the fairness or justifiability of the law ? you must focus on reading and following the rules.

The FTCA allows you to recover against the government if you were injured due to a negligent federal employee's actions while they were acting within the scope of their job. The scope of their job isn't limited to "being on the clock," it includes any time that they are acting while under the direction of a supervisor or general procedure and was serving a government purpose. A common example are post officers who get into accidents while delivery mail.

More complex examples are contractors, which comes down to how much the government retained control over the contractor. The more control the government exerts, the more likely that you can hold the government accountable.

Second, state law governs the substantive portions of the claim. This means that whether or not your injury was caused by the federal employee's action is decided by a combination of state law and the facts. For example, state law might offer an immunity to the postal worker if he had no choice in the matter ? for instance, swerving to avoid a child who runs into the road.

If you were seriously injured by a government worker then you may want to call an attorney. Litigating against the government is not as cut-and-dry as it might be against another private party. There are specific rules of procedure and other requirements that you must comply with in order to obtain a money judgment against the government. It isn't easy and an attorney can help ensure that you get a fair shot for your recovery.

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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