CROOK LAW
                                              Federal Tort Claim

            Under the common law doctrine of sovereign immunity, the United States of America cannot be sued without its consent.  In other words, you cannot file an action against the federal government or any federal agency unless Congress has waived sovereign immunity.   Congress has waived sovereign immunity as to some claims by enacting the Federal Tort Claim Act which is a statute in which the United States has authorized tort suits to be brought against it.  Under the Federal Tort Claim Act, the United States of America is liable for an injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death which is caused by the negligent, wrongful act or omission of an employee of the federal government while acting within the scope of his office or employment where the United States of America, if it were a private citizen, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.  28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1). 

              The federal government is not liable for injury to suits by military personnel for injuries sustained which were incident to military service, where discretionary function is exercised, and intentional torts.  A primary example of claims which can be filed under the Federal Tort Claim Act include those claims made by veterans, military dependents, retirees and other family members caused by medical malpractice at military hospitals or veteran’s administration hospitals.  As mentioned, active duty service military personnel who are injured by the action of negligent government employees incident to the soldier’s military service may not sue the government for injuries sustained while on active duty.  However, active duty military personnel may sue on behalf of their military dependents that are injured as a result of malpractice or the negligent actions of government employees.

             The procedures for filing a Federal Tort Claim are different than the procedures whereby one would file a lawsuit in state court.  First of all, before filing a lawsuit against the United States government, you must file an administrative claim with the federal agency from which the acts of negligence arose.  Such a claim must be filed with the federal agency within two years after the claim accrues.  If, within six months of receiving the claim, the federal agency mails a denial of the claim to the claimant, the claimant has six months in order to file a lawsuit in federal district court.  If the claim is not denied within six months, the claimant has a right to file a lawsuit in federal district court.  When a lawsuit is filed in federal district court, the lawsuit must be served on the appropriate U.S. Attorney and Attorney General of the United States.

              Once you file a lawsuit against the United States of America or any federal agency in federal district court, the case will be decided by a United States District Court Judge rather than a jury.  In other words, a district court judge will decide whether the United States government employee was negligent and whether his negligent act caused some harm to you as well as the amount of damages.

              Attorneys who represent claimants under the Federal Tort Claim Act may not charge the claimant more than 20% of any settlement made by the federal agency with whom the administrative claim is filed. or more than 25% of a court award or settlement made with the federal government after a lawsuit is filed.

              If either you or a family member has been injured as a result of negligent treatment at a Veteran’s Administration Hospital, a non-military dependent of yours has been injured by negligent treatment at a military hospital, or a federal agency, as a result of a negligent act of an employee, has caused injury to you or other members of your family, you may have a viable claim against the United States of America.  However, you must follow the administrative claim procedure in the filing of a claim and filing a lawsuit in federal district court and there are many potential pitfalls for which you may need the services of an attorney.

              Should you need the services of an attorney regarding a Federal Tort Claim Act, please feel free to call me.  I do not charge for a consultation.  You only pay us if I am successful on your claim or lawsuit.

                   205.879.2490 or Email Me
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