The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) permits lawsuits to be filed against the federal government for injury occurring on governmental property or due to the negligence of a federal employee working in the scope of his or her employment. Previously, the government was immune from any such claims.
Injury claims against any government agency involve special rules and limitations -- see our section on Injury Claims Against the Government -- and claims against the federal government are no exception.
The FTCA opens the government to possible responsibility for injury or property damage caused by or on governmental property and employees. However, recovery for such claims is limited to a specified amount. Federal law governs the procedure for FTCA lawsuits, but state law controls the substantive law, meaning the law that is actually analyzed to see if a violation occurred.
If you are injured in a car accident caused by a federal employee during the scope of his or her job, the federal government may be sued under the FTCA. For example, if you are rear-ended by a U.S. Postal Service truck, the federal government may be on the hook for your damages.
Because the FTCA can be held responsible for damage or injuries befalling guests, it is also responsible under premises liability law. This means that injury occurring on federal property caused by the negligence or neglect of the government, its tenants or employees can make the government responsible for the injury.
This does not mean that the plaintiff, the legal term for the injured party, does not need to prove that the government acted negligently and that because of that negligence he was injured. The same requirements of any other premises liability case remain intact. The only difference is that the injured party might recover less than he would from a private party.
The statute of limitations for bringing a premises liability claim against the federal government is two years. This means that failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe could lead to your case being dismissed. Exceptions are made on a case by case basis.
Prior to filing a lawsuit, a party must submit a complaint to the agency directly in control of the employee or premises. Only after such claim is denied may the injured party then proceed to court. FTCA lawsuits are filed and presided over by federal court.
FTCA claims against the federal government are complex. If you have been injured while on government property seek legal assistance with your lawsuit.