Not every personal injury lawsuit is filed against a private individual or commercial business. In some cases, injured individuals will sue a government entity such as a police department or public housing authority or other public employees for damages. Filing a medical malpractice claim against a veterans hospital or a slip and fall claim against the IRS after falling on an icy sidewalk in front of the building are common examples. Litigation involving government entities can raise unique issues especially if the matter is subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”).
In many cases, the doctrine of “sovereign immunity” bars an individual from filing a lawsuit against the government. The FTCA has strict guidelines setting forth when a claim can be brought against a public entity. Only those claims against the government specially allowed by the state law of the location where the injury occurred will fall under the FTCA. While this generally includes claims for injuries resulting from wrongful or negligent actions of government employees, there are some exceptions. These include claims based on the actions of independent contractors or based on any conduct outside the scope of the government employee (including actions taken while the federal employee is “off duty”). Although the FTCA typically covers only acts of negligence, certain claims involving the intentional misconduct of federal law enforcement officers are permissible.
Filing for compensation against the government is not as simple as filing a complaint in federal court. Pursuant to FTCA regulations, injured individuals first must file an administrative claim with the specific government agency allegedly responsible for the negligence. Many government entities have their own specific claim forms that a potential plaintiff must file such as the Standard Form 95 available from the United States Department of Justice. Under the FTCA, the government agency has six months to respond to the compensation request during which it may agree to pay some or all of the alleged damages. After six months, the injured individual may proceed with filing their lawsuit.
Injured individuals seeking to bring malpractice claims against medical providers employed by the federal government or public entity health centers also need to follow the procedures outlined in the FTCA. Federal employees of qualified health centers are immune from private lawsuits with the government acting as their primary insurer. Administrative claims against government medical facilities and their employees will be reviewed and litigated if necessary by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the General Counsel.
Government entities sued under the FTCA need experienced counsel who understand the complexities of federal and state law in this area. Defending these matters requires extensive knowledge of the exceptions and procedural requirements of the FTCA which can only be gained by years of experience. At MacMain Leinhauser, our experienced attorneys have a proven success record in defending government agencies from FTCA matters throughout the state.
At MacMain Leinhauser, our experienced Philadelphia business lawyers proudly defend a wide variety of government entities in Federal Tort Claim Act matters throughout Pennsylvania. With offices conveniently located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County, Pennsylvania in a wide range of legal matters. To schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced business and Federal Tort Claims Act attorneys today, call us at 484-318-7106 or submit an online inquiry form.