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Can I Sue the Government in a Personal Injury Case in New York?

Aug 18, 2015 | Personal Injury FAQs

Carelessness, even if it is unintentional and momentary, is human. Anyone can be careless, even for a split second, and harm someone else. Fortunately, the laws of the United States make it possible for you to sue a government agency or government personnel for negligence. However, before you sue the government in a personal injury case in New York, you should know about the Federal Tort Claims Act.

About the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

Suing federal employees or establishments is an uphill task

Suing federal employees or departments is an uphill task but it can be done. 

The FTCA allows you to file a negligence lawsuit against a federal government employee subject to certain conditions. For instance, only a federal employee can be charged for negligence under the FTCA vis-à-vis an independent government contractor. However, in certain cases, a government contractor may also be sued for negligence if he is treated like and enjoys similar privileges like an employee on government payroll.

According to the tenets of the FTCA, a federal government employee can be sued for careless conduct only if his actions were carried out while he was performing his job-related duties. This means that you cannot sue a federal government employee for an act of negligence that he has committed outside the scope of his employment.

Usually, the FTCA allows for lawsuits for negligence vis-à-vis intentional misconduct. However, there are exceptions to this rule and you can sue a federal government employee, like a law enforcement officer, for an act of intentional misconduct.

If you want to file a lawsuit against a federal government employee for negligence or intentional misconduct, you have to abide by the specific rules of law of the state where the incident had taken place.

How to File a Lawsuit Under the FTCA

You might have guessed that filing a lawsuit under a FTCA against a federal government employee is more complex than pressing charges against a private citizen. Certain legal protocols have to be maintained.

First and foremost, you have to file your claim within two years of the incident of negligence. This is the statute of limitation under the FTCA. Do note here that filing a claim is not the same as filing a lawsuit. Secondly, instead of proceeding straight to the court, you have to file your claim with the federal government agency that is responsible for the incident. The claim must be filed using the appropriate form, the Standard Form 95 or SF 95. You can download the form from the website of the Department of Justice or ask for a copy at the office of the federal government agency where you want to file.

Ensure that you include all pieces of evidence—facts, eyewitness testimonies, photographs, and any other proof that will bolster your allegation—and the amount you claim as compensation along with the form.

Trying Again

The respective federal government agency has to respond to the claim within six months of you submitting it. It can either accept the claim as “valid” and compensate you partly or wholly or reject your claim. If your claim is rejected, you can file a lawsuit within six months of receiving the intimation that your claim was rejected.

If you want to sue the government in a personal injury case in New York, be prepared for a complex and time-consuming affair. An experienced personal injury attorney who knows his way around the tenets of the FTCA will be of invaluable help to you.