Important information you need to know if you’ve been hurt by the negligence of a federal entity
If you or a loved one were hurt or died due to the negligence of a federal agency or employee, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) gives you the right to file a claim for your damages. The FTCA provides certain procedural steps you must follow in order to successfully file an injury claim. Before initiating legal action, you should know what you can sue for and how you must go about it.
Your FTCA claim must be against a federal employee, not an independent contractor, for negligent conduct conducted during the scope of the federal employee’s employment. Usually, only claims of negligence and not willful misconduct are allowed under the FTCA unless the misconduct was perpetrated by a federal law enforcement official. State laws where the incident took place must also allow claims to be filed for the tortious action perpetrated against you.
Standard Form 95 – SF95
Before bringing a lawsuit under the FTCA, you must file a Notice of Claim with the federal agency responsible for your injury. A Notice of Claim is an administrative action seeking restitution from the federal government. Using the Standard Form 95 (SF95), claimants will state basic information about themselves; name, address, date, marital status, and employment status.
Additionally, claimants must include information about their accident. SF95 will ask for the time, date, nature of any property damage or personal injury/death. Claimants may list witnesses to the incident and include their addresses. Claimants must list specific dollar amounts of damages they are seeking. A failure to list a specific dollar amount may result in a forfeiture of their rights. Claimants will also be asked about any insurance information to property damaged.
Can a lawyer file a SF95 Notice of Claim for me?
Yes. SF95 forms have a field to identify the legal representative filing your claim. Because there are specific procedural steps to be taken, an attorney familiar with the FTCA can help ensure your paperwork is processed correctly. Attorneys can help claimants with aspects such as:
Time deadlines: Notice of Claims often must be filed within two years of the injury (note: consult with an injury lawyer in order to calculate the filing deadline applicable to you). Utilizing the services of an attorney can help ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner to preserve your rights. Once your claim is submitted, the federal government has six months to make a decision on your claim.
Once the government rules on your notice of claims, you have six months to file a lawsuit if you are not awarded the full amount of money you asked for. Consult with a DC personal injury lawyer to determine which deadline applies to your injury case.
Supporting documents: Notice of Claims usually must include supporting documents for their injuries and/or property damage. Attorneys can assist in collecting documentation recording the extent of the injury, hospitalization, treatment, the degree of any disabilities. In wrongful death cases, you may need to include invoices for burial expenses.
If there was property damage, itemized receipts of repairs performed must be submitted with your Notice of Claim. If the repairs are not performed, two estimates from reliable parties must accompany with the Notice of Claim. Damages for property beyond repaired should include statements as to the date of purchase, original cost, and the value of the property, both before and after the accident. A qualified attorney can help assist claimants will compiling all the necessary paperwork for seeking restitution for damages.
Filing a Federal Tort Claims Act lawsuit
If you do not receive a favorable ruling in your administrative action, you may proceed with a lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Your FTCA lawsuit should be filed in the United States District Court which covers the jurisdiction where your accident took place (there may be other jurisdictions where you can file, but as always, we strongly recommend consulting with an attorney prior to proceeding).
Your case will be assigned to an attorney with the United States Department of Justice and an experienced attorney on your side should be familiar will all the legal proceedings and defenses the federal government may use to keep from paying you the compensation you deserve. Under the FTCA, you may not sue the federal government for more money than you asked for in your SF95 Notice of Claim. Retaining a qualified attorney from the very beginning can help ensure you file for all the injury damages you are entitled to.
Federal Tort Claims Act attorneys in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia
If you’ve been hurt due to the negligence of a federal entity, The Cochran Firm, D.C. has a team of dedicated and experienced personal injury attorneys who can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our team of seasoned attorneys can guide you through the complicated legal processes of suing the government and maximize your recovery.
We offer free, prompt, and confidential case reviews. Since we represent our clients on a contingency basis, there are absolutely no legal fees unless we recover for you. Call us locally during business hours at 202-682-5800 or at 1-800-THE-FIRM to reach us 24 hours a day. You may also fill out a contact form here on our website. Because of the strict time deadlines associated with pursuing personal injury claims against the federal government, we ask that you please contact us at your earliest convenience in order to preserve your rights.