September 8, 2020

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a person or business’s negligence, then you have the option to sue for damages. The same holds true if your injury involves the government.

While the rules are strict, the federal government, most states, and most local governments allow citizens to sue them for various enumerated reasons. There are restrictions involved, and not every government body follows the same rules. Cravens & Noll can aide you in working through the rules to achieve maximum compensation.

In this post, we’ll list some of the common rules and procedures for filing personal injury claims against the government.

Everywhere is Different

Federal and state governments in the United States are technically unable to be sued thanks to Sovereign Immunity. This doctrine states that a government body cannot be sued unless they give consent. 

Luckily, the federal government provided this consent by passing the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) in 1946. Most states, including Virginia, have also passed their own versions of the Tort Claims Act to allow private parties to sue the government. 

Cities and counties within a state are afforded even less immunity and are not included in the state Tort Claims Act. These smaller government bodies have to pass their own legislation in order to be sued. Most cities and towns in the United States may be successfully sued.

What Does The FTCA Do?

The FTCA dictates that the federal government can be held accountable for personal injuries sustained on government property or caused by employees of the government. 

For example, a postal service van runs into your car, or you sustain an injury from a slip and fall at an unemployment office. In these cases, you might have reasonable cause to sue the federal government for damages due to negligence. 

The FTCA also dictates how much a claimant may recover from a personal injury case. The FTCA regulations do not apply to the Virginia Tort Claims Act (VTCA), since it has its own set of limitations. 

Regulations For Suing the Government

Federal Government

The FTCA lists many limitations and exceptions for bringing a claim against the government. Since there are so many, it’s impossible to list them all in this article. For now, there are a few common rules we can list:

  • The FTCA allows federal employees to be sued; however, often private contractors hired by the federal government enjoy the same immunity of the government.
  • The negligence must have occurred within the scope of the defendant’s job.
  • Only negligence claims are covered by the FTCA, while intentional misconduct claims only apply to certain federal law enforcement officers.
  • The claim must be based on and allowed by the state law where the accident happened.

Steps to File a Claim Per the FTCA

Once you believe that your personal injury case is compensable by the FTCA, there are a few steps and procedures you must follow.

  • You must file a claim with the federal agency that caused your accident.
  • You must file your claim within two years of the exact day of the accident.
  • You must include specific claims for money damages and the essential and qualifying facts about the accident for the federal agency to conduct an investigation

Once filed, the federal agency has six months to respond to your claim. They can either deny your claim, which can lead to a court case, or admit your claim, therefore admitting fault. In the latter case, the agency will usually make an exception to pay your damages. You may decide to accept or reject that offer.

If the agency denies your claim, you then have six months to file a lawsuit against them. It’s best to file this as soon as possible. 

It’s important to note that you don’t have to file a lawsuit until the federal agency responds to your initial claim. You have the option to file the lawsuit before their response so long as it is six months after you have provided proper and adequate notice of your claim.

Virginia State Government 

Under the VTCA, there are similar rules to the FTCA, but the limitations are different.

  • You have one year to file your claim against a specific state agency.
  • These claims must also include specific information about the monetary damages and details of the accident.
  • If your claim is against the state of Virginia, you must file your claim with the Director of the Division of Risk Management or the Attorney General.
  • If you have a claim against one of the nine transportation districts in Virginia, you must file the claim with the chairman of the commission of the transportation district where your accident and injury took place.

The VTCA also specifies that a plaintiff can only receive damages up to $100,000, while the FTCA’s limit is much higher at $1 million.

Personal Injury Lawyers On Your Side

Deciding to sue a government body can be complicated and stressful. Just like a normal personal injury case, you are entitled to damages due to someone else’s negligence. That fact doesn’t change just because a government agency is involved.

Before filing your claim, speak with our lawyers at Cravens and Noll. Our experienced team of personal injury attorneys will help you navigate through the FTCA and VTCA to ensure your case is legitimate from the get-go. If the case goes to court, we’ll be more than ready to defend your rights and get you the damages payout you need to be made whole. If you have been seriously injured, you need Cravens & Noll. We successfully sue the government frequently. Our experience and our passion will guide you to success!

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