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Personal Injury Claims Against Federal Agencies

What can the average person do if they are injured by a government agency or on government property? Unlike other kinds of personal injury claims, lawsuits against the federal government or its agents fall under very specific law which make the process more challenging and exacting than a similar lawsuit filed against a private party.  Eugene personal injury attorneys like Veralrud and Fowler understand the intricacies of federal government lawsuits. When federal negligence causes personal injury, Veralrud and Fowler will be on the case.

FTCA: The Federal Tort Claims Act and Eugene Personal Injury Lawyers

The only way the common man can ask for compensation for injuries or damages occurring due to the negligence of federal employees or unsafe conditions in federal facilities is by suing under the Federal Tort Claims Acts, or the FTCA. As we will see, this act though designed to allow recourse against the Federal government actually places significant barriers in front of an injured civilian attempting to collect damages.

FTCA History

In 1946, aviation and navigation technology was not nearly as sophisticated as it is today. Pilots relied on a mix of eyesight, radio contact, rudimentary instruments, and instincts to fly planes of roughly similar dimensions as ones we still fly in today under sometimes less-than-ideal conditions.

Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith Jr. was flying his B-25 Bomber south from Bedford Army Air Field in Bedford, Massachusetts toward Newark Airport in  Newark, New Jersey when he encountered poor weather over New York City. Typical of a muggy Summer morning on the Eastern Seaboard, a mass of thick fog had begun to fill the city, rolling in milk waves off the Hudson river and rendering the skyline a fairytale landscape of skyscrapers emerging from what looked like a sea of clouds.

Smith radioed for a heading and received advice that the visibility through the city was approaching zero. He proceeded anyway, we can only presume imagining that he would be able to get by on instruments and instincts alone. Unfortunately for the fourteen people killed when his B-25 slammed into the Empire State Building, Smith was wrong.

That accident, involving as it did the tallest and most spectacular building on earth at the time, prompted sweeping changes in the legal landscape. Smith was after all a Federal government agent piloting Federal government property. This complicates the lawsuit process since the Federal government had been, like all the other sovereign governments on the planet, immune to lawsuits. The Federal Tort Claims Act had been languishing in committee, awaiting a catalyst to send it on to the White House. Lawmakers had long recognized that the United States government system and philosophy demanded some form of recourse against the Federal Government for the average citizen. After the Empire State Building crash, the legislature had the catalyst it needed to open up ways for people injured by the government to collect damages in lawsuits.

What Are the Limits of an FTCA Lawsuit?

Though the FTCA does allow suits to be lodged against the Federal government and its agents, it places very specific parameters around what constitutes both “the government” and “its agents.” It also truncates some definitions of damage that would be applicable in suits against private parties. For instance (we can assume because politicians designed these policies) an agent of the Federal Government cannot be sued for failure to perform a duty, even if the performance of that duty would have resulted in the amelioration or entire avoidance of an injury. Also, only those employed directly by the Federal Government (and explicitly not contractors) can be sued under FTCA. There are even more precise definitions of who does and does not fall under the FTCA’s statutory authority, but these are the kinds of questions only an experienced personal injury attorney can answer.

If an agent of the government engages in “intentional misconduct,” which most certainly rises above the level of simple negligence in almost every situation, the damages that might result are not repairable under FTCA. Civil courts and individual civil lawsuits are not precluded by this fact. FTCA only controls the ways that the government can be exposed to liability in tort cases. These controls are very effective at doing what they need to do: both shield the government from excessive lawsuits that might destabilize the country’s budget, and allow recourse for citizens harmed by government agents or in government facilities.

Standard Form 95 and You

If you believe you have a tortious claim against the Federal Government, it is extremely important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. They will know how to proceed down the circuitous road toward making you whole. Without the help of a lawsuit lawyer, the complex and inscrutable bureaucratic requirements of filing a tort claim under FTCA will leave the average person frustrated and uncompensated.

Consider, for instance, Standard Form 95. Under FTCA, you may not take you claim immediately to a traditional court. Instead, you must fill out Standard Form 95 (https://www.justice.gov/civil/docs_forms/SF-95.pdf) and submit it to the “appropriate federal agency.” Determining just what federal agency a claimant is supposed to send Standard Form 95 is just the start of what can be a long and circuitous process.

Federal Lawsuit Attorneys Can Help

Whether you need to recover damages by suing the federal government or the state government, FTCA requirements still apply. Only an experienced personal injury lawyer has the inside knowledge to get you the compensation you deserve in a timely manner. While it is possible to go through the FTCA claims process as an individual, the process is always drawn out and difficult. By the time you receive compensation, there is no guarantee it will be an adequate amount to repair your situation. Veralrud and Fowler, among Eugene’s best personal injury attorneys, are ready to represent you in your government lawsuit claim. Give them a call today for your free compensation. Don’t take on city hall all by yourself. Bring the legal experts at Veralrud and Fowler along. They will make sure you get what you need.

Give Us a Call at 541-345-3333 for a Free Consultation About Your Case or Send Us an Email Below

975 Oak Street, Suite 798

Eugene, OR 97401

Phone (541) 345-3333
Fax (541) 342-1908

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