By Steven Wiley | July 18, 2013 at 10:23 AM EDT | No Comments
Traditionally, the doctrine of sovereign immunity has barred citizens and businesses from suing the government for personal injuries or property damage. However, over the years, this rule has been softened by the enactment of statutes providing exceptions and allowing claims to be asserted against the government in some cases. While each state will have its own laws regarding when and how claims can be made against it, the federal government has enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act, which authorizes some claims to be made against it and provides a procedure to follow.
There are many exceptions to the Federal Tort Claims Act to which sovereign immunity still applies. Generally, you may be able to assert a claim under the FTCA if you have been injured through the negligence of some federal employees or due to the condition of federal property, like a fall in a office of a federal agency. Not all claims are allowed by the FTCA and it is important to speak with a lawyer to understand your rights.
Under the FTCA, a claimant has a two-year statute of limitation to file a claim with the responsible federal agency. The Department of Justice has designed a form, called a Standard Form 95, that can be used to give notice of a claim. Claims should be accompanied by as much documentation as possible and the amount of the claim must be clearly spelled out.
Upon receipt of the claim, the government has six months to make a decision as to whether to pay the claim, reject the claim or negotiate a settlement amount. If the government refuses the claim or is unwilling to settle the claim for an acceptable amount, the claimant then has six months from the ruling to file a lawsuit in the appropriate federal district court. If the government fails to issue a ruling within its six-month time frame, the claimant may either continue to wait or go ahead and file a lawsuit.
The FTCA process can be tricky. If you believe that you have a claim for personal injuries or property damage against the federal government in or around Charleston or Norfolk, please contact me to discuss your rights.