LawCall™ is a weekly, thirty minute call-in show about legal topics of interest. Each week, we discuss personal injury, auto accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, slip and fall, DUI accidents and birth injuries, as well as bankruptcy, family law, divorce, landlord and tenant law, dangerous and defective products, legislative matters, and current issues in the legal world. We take your calls LIVE every Sunday at 11:35pm. Call us at 1-877-525-LAWS (5297) during the show.
This Week On LawCall™ — Suing The Government
Do you have a negligence claim against the government? If so, you need to tune in to LawCall™ this Sunday, when Tallahassee personal injury attorneys Kimmy Stewart and Will Haselden will be explaining everything you need to know about sovereign immunity and suing the government.
Have you slipped and fallen in a city park? Been injured in a traffic accident involving a state vehicle? Suffered medical malpractice by a Veterans Administration doctor? These are only a few examples of potential negligence claims against the government. Unfortunately, suing the government is much trickier than suing a private citizen or company. What is sovereign immunity and how does it protect government employees? What kinds of lawsuits are possible? If you’ve been wronged by a government employee or on government property, you need to tune into LawCall™.
Why is it so difficult to sue the government?
Legal action against the government is very different- and most would say more difficult- than filing a lawsuit against a private citizen. Both Florida and federal law protects the government, and those employed by same, under a principle called sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity harkens back to old, English law. It means that the government cannot be sued without its consent; basically, the government has immunity from prosecution unless it agrees to be prosecuted.
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)
While our laws still follow the historical precedent of sovereign immunity, certain kinds of lawsuits against federal employees are allowed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). If you want to file a lawsuit against a federal employee or agency, you must first determine whether you can sue the government. Unless your claim of negligence is specifically allowed by the FTCA, you will probably be unable to file a lawsuit against the government.
How do I know if my claim is allowed by the FTCA?
There are limitations on filing a claim against the federal government, and there are a few basic guidelines that must be met.
- Only federal employees can be sued, not independent contractors hired by the government.
- The negligent actions must have occurred within the scope of the defendant’s employment.
- The claim must be based on negligence, not willful misconduct (although there are some exceptions for that.)
- The claim must be based on the laws of the state in which the negligent action occurred.
What is an Administrative Claim?
In a regular personal injury lawsuit, you go to trial if neither side can agree on a settlement amount. However, when pursuing a claim against the federal government, you must follow FTCA rules, and must file a claim with the federal agency under whose authority the negligence occurred. This part of the process, during which your claim will be reviewed by the same federal agency, it is referred to as an administrative claim.
After you have followed all the rules for filing an administrative claim, which can take over one year, you are allowed to pursue a lawsuit against the government.
Do I need an attorney to sue the government?
Well, yes and no. It is always wiser to have an experienced attorney representing you in any legal matter, and suing the government is no different. The FTCA is a complicated and complex law, but despite the many restrictions imposed by the FTCA, the government still pays out millions of dollars a year in claims. If you think you have a legitimate claim against the government, you should talk to a Tallahassee personal injury lawyer to see if there is value in pursuing it.
The personal injury attorneys at Tallahassee Law FirmBarrett, Fasig & Brooks understand the challenges and complexities of the FTCA. We will look at all the specifics of your case and help you determine if you have a negligence claim against the government. If you’ve been injured by government negligence, give us a call at (850) 222-3232. An attorney is always available, day or night, weekday or weekend, to take your call.
LawCall™ features Tallahassee personal injury attorneys, Vinse Barrett, Jimmy Fasig, Dana Brooks, and Mark Nonni, plus guest attorneys from across North Florida who answer your questions on a different legal topic every Sunday. Long-time newscaster Frank Ranicky anchors the program.