The Federal Tort Claims Act: Ask For a Sum Certain

As indicated in our prior blogs on this subject, when a claim is brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, it must be initiated via the filing of an administrative claim. The administrative claim should not be filled out in the most sparse form imaginable rather all pertinent details of the claim should be provided. This includes providing all relevant documentation which supports the claim. Indeed, it is somewhat analogous to submitting a settlement package to an insurance company. All information concerning when and where the claim arose, what the claimed negligence or cause of action is based upon, what damages were incurred and how they were calculated and what documentary proof exists to support all of the above. The administrative claim therefore is not simply the filing of the Form 95 but includes filing all pertinent documentation including photographs, medical bills, medical records and any all other supporting documentation. While one can submit a claim without supporting documentation technically this is not a wise course to pursue because the government is not likely to ever engage in any realistic appraisal of such a claim. The more support that is provided the more likely it is that the government may attempt to resolve the claim on an administrative basis which will protect the claimant from having to proceed with litigation with the United States in Federal District Court.
A key part of the administrative claim is to make sure that the amount of money damages are set forth for a “sum certain” that being a definite amount. The claim cannot assert damages in excess of a specified sum but must actually set forth a specific sum. Thus, if one asserts damages, hypothetically in the amount of $75,000.00, then those are the only damages one can seek if the claim is denied and a lawsuit becomes necessary.

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