Can Miami Accident Victims Sue the Federal Government for Negligence?

According to the Congressional Research Service, there are more than 2 million federal employees in the United States. Just like anyone else, these employees may cause accidents. While they are doing their work for the federal government, they still have the capacity to act negligently. Their negligence may ultimately hurt people, and you or someone you know may be a victim.

What can you do if you’re hurt by a federal government employee? Can you sue the government for personal injury? The answer may be yes. Our Miami personal injury attorneys explain.

Suing the Federal Government for Negligence

Yes, you can sue the federal government for negligence. The rules that apply to negligence lawsuits against the federal government are the same as those for other types of negligence cases. The case goes to the U.S. District Court in the state where the accident occurs.

Some additional rules apply procedurally to bring a lawsuit against the federal government. However, in general, you can sue the federal government for negligence and claim financial compensation.

How Do I File a Lawsuit Against the Federal Government?

To file a lawsuit against the federal government, you first complete Standard Form 95. Then, you send the form to the appropriate government agency. Within six months of the agency’s denial of a claim, you file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court where the accident occurred.

To file a lawsuit against the federal government, follow the same steps that apply in the state where you bring the claim. You prepare the same evidence that you would use in a similar case against a private party.

What is the Federal Tort Claims Act?

The Federal Tort Claims Act is United States law passed in 1946. The law gives victims the right to sue the federal government for negligence. When a federal worker is negligent in the way they perform their job, an accident may be the result. The Federal Tort Claims Act provides the legal basis for a victim to file a lawsuit against the federal government because of the employee’s behavior.

The Act is an essential law for several reasons. Before the Federal Tort Claims Act, there was no way for the victim of government negligence to claim compensation. They were simply left without justice. The victim had to pay their own medical bills, and they could not receive any recourse for pain and suffering. A victim had to rely on the charity of the government to pay them after an accident. In most cases, victims were left with nothing.

However, the Federal Tort Claims Act gives victims legal rights. Victims took advantage of the Act shortly after it passed. The first victims to use the Act were victims of the Texas City disaster, a 1947 chemical explosion that resulted in 581 deaths.

The Federal Government and Personal Injury Claims

To sue the federal government for a personal injury, the victim must bring a lawsuit. However, there are a few ways that a lawsuit against the United States government is different from that of any other party:

  • Notice of Claim – A suit against the government begins with a notice of the claim. The victim must give the government advanced notice of their intent to file a claim. The government has the option to offer to settle the case at this stage.
  • Time Limits – The statute of limitations in government cases is two years from the date that the claim accrues. This is usually the day that the accident happens. Even if the state’s time limits are different, there is still a limit of only two years in federal government cases. In addition, you have six months to file the claim after the government refuses the opportunity to settle based on the notice of claim.
  • No Interest or Punitive Damages – In a suit against the federal government, the victim cannot receive interest on their judgment. Also, punitive damages are not available to the victim even if the conduct of the government agent is egregious.

Lawsuits Against the United States Government for Intentional Conduct

Usually, lawsuits against the federal government for intentional conduct are prohibited. In other words, if a government employee hurts you intentionally, even while on the job, you may not be able to claim compensation from the government. Of course, you can pursue the case directly against the responsible party.

One exception is law enforcement misconduct. Even though government employees typically have some level of qualified immunity, their protections do not apply to law enforcement misconduct. If you’re the victim of misconduct by a police officer or another government employee, you may pursue compensation. It is crucial to work with an experienced attorney for United States government personal injury cases in order to bring your claim against the right parties and under the applicable laws.

How Our Attorneys for Lawsuits Against the Federal Government Can Help

When you’re hurt in an accident in Miami, claiming the compensation that you deserve can be a complex matter. If the case involves the federal government, this is especially true. Here are some of the ways that our attorneys for lawsuits against the federal government can assist victims:

  • Determining whether the federal government is the appropriate party to name in the case
  • Understanding what Florida law applies to the claim
  • Complying with the requirement to provide notice to the appropriate agency in advance of the claim
  • Calculating and demanding the right amount of compensation
  • Filing the case in the correct United States District Court
  • Helping you understand the value of your case and special rules that apply in federal government cases
  • Pursuing the evidence; building your legal strategy
  • Negotiating the best settlement possible, or presenting your case at trial

Our Miami legal services are comprehensive. It’s our goal to help each victim maximize their compensation and fully exercise their rights in the United States legal system.

Free and Confidential Consultation with Miami Personal Injury Attorneys

The Bernstein & Maryanoff Miami legal team has experience helping accident victims fight for fair compensation. See what thousands of clients already know – we get results for our clients. Contact us today at (800) 429-4529 for your free, confidential consultation. We’re accepting new cases, and we’re ready to fight for you.

About the Author

attorney Jack Bernstein standing in front of a blurred background

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

Jack Bernstein is a hard working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you've been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.