Virginia Federal Tort Claims Act Lawyer
If you have been harmed in Virginia by the negligence of a federal employee or agency, consider getting help from an injury lawyer in Virginia. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows victims of injuries caused by federal agencies and employees to sue the United States in certain circumstances, but these cases can be very complicated. A Virginia Federal Tort Claims Act lawyer can guide you through the process of understanding your rights and making a claim to recover monetary damages.
The Federal Tort Claims Act in Virginia
Parts of Northern Virginia are very close in proximity to Washington, D.C. and many federal agencies operate within the state. Government workers, unfortunately, sometimes are involved in automobile collisions or other negligent acts that may cause injuries to private citizens. While automobile accidents are perhaps the most common cause of injury giving rise to claims under the FTCA, the FTCA allows for private individuals to sue the United States government in federal court for tort damages resulting from the conduct of employees, agencies, and others acting on behalf of the U.S. government. Other examples can include negligent building maintenance or construction, negligent blasting, demolition, or handling of hazardous materials, negligent failure to maintain a national park in a reasonably safe condition, and many sources of injury. If you have been injured by the actions or inaction of a government employee or agency, or an individual acting on behalf of the United States, you may have a claim against the United States under the FTCA.
In some cases, the negligence of a federal employee or agency causes direct harm to people in Virginia. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) provides a framework for allowing victims of government negligence to pursue a damage claim in federal court. For this reason, if you think you have cause to use the FTCA contact a Virginia Federal Tort Claims Act lawyer.
Why Was the Federal Tort Claims Act Necessary?
The U.S. legal system borrowed many legal principles from England, including the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity was the idea that the king could do no wrong. Sovereign immunity in American jurisprudence, however, means that a sovereign state cannot be sued unless it consents. The consent must be given by the legislative branch.
In 1946, Congress enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act. Virginia residents, and people throughout the United States, suddenly secured the right to make a claim against the federal government- at least under certain circumstances. The Commonwealth of Virginia waived its own sovereign immunity to a large extent through the Virginia Tort Claims Act, which has its own set of procedures. VA Code Section 8.01-195 et seq.
Using the Federal Tort Claims Act After an Injury
For individuals who sustained an injury in Virginia, the FTCA can provide a remedy on a limited basis. In order to make a claim under the FTCA:
- Your case must be against the United States.
- Your claim must arise out of negligent on-duty actions by the federal worker. You cannot pursue a claim under the FTCA based on the actions of state or local government workers, since the FTCA covers only federal employees. In most cases you also cannot make a claim based on work performed by an independent contractor, although there are some exceptions, such as where a contractor was directly supervised by federal employees.
- You must be seeking a monetary remedy. You cannot use the FTCA to get an injunction or any remedy other than money damages.
After a federal government-related injury occurs in Virginia, any FTCA claim must be originated by filing a claim directly with the agency that caused the harm. This “administrative claim” is a required first step, unlike in most types of personal injury or wrongful death cases, where an injured person can file a lawsuit directly in court. The agency will typically have six months to respond and accept or deny your claim.
The agency may make an offer to pay you monetary damages. However, if this does not occur or if the agency offers to pay less money than you deserve, you may file a lawsuit within six months days of the day that the agency’s final settlement offer or letter denying your claim is mailed to you.
If you sue, you will need to show you are eligible to make an FTCA case. You should strongly consider getting help from a Virginia federal tort claims act attorney who has experience dealing with these types of claims.
How A Virginia Federal Tort Claims Act Lawyer Can Help
You deserve to be compensated if you were harmed by a government employee or agency. Contact a Virginia Federal Tort Claims Act lawyer a who can provide you with legal advice on your rights and help you with both the administrative and litigation processes. Call today to learn more.