You can sue the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) when you're injured because of federal employee negligence or on federal government property.
Injury claims against government agencies involve special rules and limitations—see Injury Claims Against the Government—and claims against the federal government are no exception.
The FTCA is a limited waiver of government immunity, meaning it allows the federal government to be liable (responsible) for harm caused by negligent employees or on federal property. The FTCA controls the procedures for lawsuits against the government (like notice requirements, timelines), but state law controls other questions, like what damages plaintiffs may recover.
If you're injured in a car accident caused by a federal employee during the scope of that employee's job, you may sue the federal government under the FTCA. For example, if a USPS driver rear-ends you, the federal government may be on the hook for your damages if you can prove that the driver was negligent.
If you're injured on federal government property, you can sue the federal government under the FTCA under premises liability law. You'll have to prove that you were injured on federal property because government employees or tenants were negligent. For example, if you are serving on a federal grand jury and you fall on a wet bathroom floor in the courthouse, you might have an FTCA claim.
You typically have two years from the day you were injured to file an administrative claim with the correct federal agency (see below). Mailing the claim isn't enough. If you miss the deadline, called the "statute of limitations," you can't file a claim or lawsuit.
If the federal agency denies your claim, you have six months to file a federal lawsuit. The six-month window opens on the date your claim was denied. Don't delay. If the window closes, your lawsuit will be dismissed before you get a chance to make your case.
Before you can file a lawsuit in federal court, you have to file a claim with the agency responsible for the employee or property that caused you harm. The easiest way to prepare your administrative claim is to use the federal government's Standard Form 95 (SF95).
The agency has six months to respond to your claim. In some cases, you might be able to negotiate a settlement with the lawyer representing the government agency. Or, if the agency denies your claim or offers you less than what you think your claim is worth, you have six months to file a lawsuit in federal court.
FTCA claims against the federal government are complex. If you think you have a personal injury claim against the government, talk to a lawyer who has experience with federal tort cases. Learn more about how to find the right attorney for your personal injury case.