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Suing The Government for Negligence Under the Federal Tort Claims Act

In 1946, the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FCTA”) was passed. The FTCA permits citizens to file a lawsuit against the United States for negligence. Government employees can make mistakes in countless ways. Examples of government negligence include VA medical malpractice, postal vehicle collisions, and air traffic controller mistakes.

The FTCA, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2401(b) and 2671-2680, constitutes a limited waiver by the United States of its sovereign immunity” and allows for a tort suit against the United States under specified circumstances. Under the FTCA, a private citizen may sue for injuries caused by “the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred. Under the FTCA, sovereign immunity is waived if a claim meets six requirements (1) brought against the United States, (2) for money damages, (3) for injury to or loss of property, or personal injury, or death, (4) caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government, (5) while acting within the scope of his or her office or employment, and (6) under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.

The general public and many lawyers do not know that a lawsuit against the Government cannot proceed unless an administrative claim is submitted to the appropriate federal agency within two (2) years of claim “accrual.” “Accrual” is a legal term of art that should be defined by an attorney. If an agency denies the claim, or does not respond to the claim within 6 months, a lawsuit may be filed.

Identifying the relevant agency, determining what information to present, and where/how to preset it can be complicated. Indeed, the particulars of a federal tort claim formed the basis of an 84 page guide recently published by Syracuse personal injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, titled “A Desktop Guide to Federal Tort Claims Within the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.”

There is a limited amount of time to file appropriate documents to protect your rights. To determine whether you have a case against the Government, contact Bottar Leone, PLLC, to speak with a New York Federal Tort Claims Act attorney.

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