Suing Uncle Sam: The Federal Torts Claim Act

The Federal Torts Claim Act is found at 28 U.S.C. § 1346. It provides for a limited waiver of sovereign immunity with respect to tortious acts committed by federal agents and employees. Under its provisions, only the United States of America may be named as a defendant, not the agency or employee who committed the tort. An administrative ante-litem notice must be filed within two (2) years after the claim accrues. There is a waiting period before suit can be filed against the United States which is either when the written denial occurs or six (6) months, whichever is earlier.
In order to present a claim one must typically submit to the agency involved a Standard Form 95 Claim form which sets forth the basis of the claim and the amount of the damages being claimed. As is true of the State Torts Claim Act relative to claims against State of Georgia agents and officers, the Federal Torts Claim Act provides for a limited waiver of the United States’ sovereign immunity. The provisions of the Act set forth when the government can and cannot be sued. Provisions of the Act as indicated also have various ante-litem notice provisions which must be followed otherwise the claim can be barred for failure to properly perfect the claim.

Unless one is familiar with the provisions of the Federal Torts Claim Act, the requirements of a standard Form 95 and is familiar with the nuances of the law inthis area, one should confer with counsel as soon as possible if one has been the victim of the negligence of a federal agent or employee. While not all victims of governmental negligence have valid claims under the terms of the Federal Torts Claim Act, nonetheless, under the limited waiver provisions of the Federal Torts Claim Act, there are many viable claims that can be brought against the United States Government provided the claimant perfects the claim in a timely manner by filing a proper Form 95 with the proper agency and provided that the suit is timely filed if and when the claim is denied on an administrative level. Again, all clients with potential claims against the United States government for damages caused by the tortious misconduct of a governmental employee should confer with counsel as soon as possible concerning such matters.

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