What Is the Federal Tort Claims Act?

person wrapping their hand in a bandage

When you are injured by someone else’s actions it is important that you are properly compensated. But what about if those actions belonged to someone who works for the United States government? 

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) enables private citizens to bring lawsuits against the United States for any injury, loss of property, or death caused by the negligence of a government employee. While this may seem intimidating, a California personal injury attorney can help you to file such a claim. 

When Is a Private Citizen Unable to Sue the U.S. Government?

Under the Discretionary Function Exception (DFE), a private citizen may not sue the government in a tort claim if the government employee was given the autonomy to act independently regarding the actions that caused injury to the plaintiff. 

For instance, in one case the court was considering an FTCA issue. In this case, the plaintiff was sleeping in his tent in a park recreation area when a tree fell into his tent and crushed his foot. He sued the government under the FTCA alleging that the government was negligent in failing to cut down the tree. His claim was denied and he appealed. The appellate court also found for the defendant because U.S. Forest Service employees are given the discretion to determine trees at risk of falling and to remove them. In this case, the employee found that the tree was not dangerous enough to be an imminent threat to anyone. Therefore this case fell under the DFE.

Governmental Sovereign Immunity

In other words, you can bring a claim of negligence against the government under the FTCA, but if the government employee involved had his or her own discretion, the federal government will have sovereign immunity, meaning it cannot be held liable. 

In determining whether the employee in question has the discretion to perform his or her own actions concerning the injury to the plaintiff, the court will look at the property where the accident took place and examine the job policies in effect. It will also consider whether thee policies included any other considerations. If these related policies contained no mandatory requirements, the DFE will apply and the government will be immune from tort liability. 

Contact a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a government employee in California, you deserve to be compensated.

At the Law Offices of David P. Kashani, our experienced California personal injury lawyers work strategically to help our clients obtain just compensation for their injuries. When you become our client, you will have peace of mind knowing that our legal team is on your side. We will guide you through all aspects of your personal injury claim and make sure that your interests are protected. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

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