Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC is known throughout Georgia for representing victims of catastrophic injury caused by the carelessness or intentional acts of others.
Taking on a defendant as well-equipped as the federal government is no small task, but the attorneys at Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC have years of experience representing victim’s rights against some of the most prominent names around.
If you were injured due to the negligence of a government employee, you may be able to pursue compensation under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Call our firm in Atlanta at (404) 891-9150 or in Savannah at (912) 867-9140.
Common Types of FTCA Claims
There are several types of FTCA claims that are common in Georgia. The FTCA exists to provide citizens who have been harmed by the actions of government employees with the ability to hold these workers accountable.
Some common FTCA claims relate to military medical malpractice, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical malpractice, government vehicle accidents, and premises liability issues. We’ll break down each category below.
There are several major medical centers near military bases in Georgia that serve Army, Navy, and Air Force service members and their families. If the healthcare professionals at these military hospitals or clinics do their jobs incorrectly, patients can end up seriously injured or even permanently disabled. The FTCA is commonly used for military malpractice claims in Georgia so that these victims can sue the United States for the harm done to them as a result of the government employee’s negligence or carelessness.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Malpractice
There are many VA medical clinics and hospitals in Georgia, and with more than 600,000 veterans in the state, a lot of people rely on quality care from the VA. These facilities provide a full spectrum of medical care to veterans in Georgia. If any VA employees commit malpractice, veterans can file a claim under the FTCA to hold the government accountable for the harm their employees caused.
Government Vehicle Accidents
With countless postal trucks, patrol cars, military cargo vehicles, and other government-owned automobiles on the road, U.S. government vehicles are in accidents every single day. Any government employee driving a vehicle owned by the United States federal government or one of its agencies can be sued under the FTCA if a citizen is injured in an accident. These accident claims are usually covered when government employees are driving the vehicles in an official capacity as a part of their jobs.
Significant portions of federal land and buildings, such as courthouses, military bases, and post offices, are owned by the United States government, and are spread out in every part of the state. If a citizen is injured while on federal property due to a government employee acting with negligence, the citizen can file an FTCA claim to hold the United States liable.
Federal Tort Claims Act
What exactly is the Federal Tort Claims Act and how does it work? Here’s the rundown on this important law that protects citizens by allowing them to sue government personnel for harm done.
In 1946, Congress enacted the FTCA after a plane flown by a military member crashed into the Empire State Building, killing 14 people. The United States offered compensation to the survivors and victims. Some accepted, and others filed lawsuits, spurring Congress to act.
The FTCA serves as a waiver of the government’s sovereign immunity for certain wrongs, referred to as “torts” in a legal context. A tort is an infringement on a right that leads to civil liability. The FTCA allows citizens to pursue claims of negligence against the federal government. Negligence is a legal theory that allows a victim to recover damages when a defendant fails to act reasonably under the circumstances, and that failure causes harm or injury.
Under the FTCA, even if an individual employee is responsible for causing the injury, the defendant in the legal action is the United States government, not the employee.
Specific requirements for suing the United States under the FTCA:
- Generally only allows recovery for claims based on negligence
- Can only sue federal employees, not independent contractors hired by the federal government
- Claim must be allowable in the state in which the injury occurred
- Must go through administrative channels before filing a lawsuit
Examples of claims brought under the FTCA include accidents occurring on federal property or facilities, traffic accidents involving federal agents, or medical malpractice by Veterans Administration doctors.
Aside from negligence, some victims of intentional torts, such as assault or battery by a federal law enforcement officer, may be able to recover damages. Liability generally does not apply to non-active-duty members of the armed forces.
The FTCA requires that before filing a lawsuit, a victim must first file an administrative claim with the government agency alleged to have caused the injury. For example, if you allege an injury occurred at a post office, you must file a claim with the United States Postal Service before filing a lawsuit.
If the government agency admits to the allegations in your administrative claim, it may agree to pay some or all of your damages. If you disagree with the agency’s resolution of the claim or the agency denies your claim, you have six months to file a lawsuit in federal court.
The FTCA places limitations on damages if you end up filing a lawsuit. First, you can only sue for the number of damages claimed in your prior administrative claim unless additional damages are discovered. Secondly, you may not seek an award of punitive damages against the United States. This means any judgment may not punish the government for its wrongful actions; it may only compensate you for your injuries.
Because the FTCA places strict limitations on damages, it is essential to evaluate all the damages you suffered due to your injuries before filing your administrative claim with the responsible government agency.
Often, those who are physically injured suffer damages down the road that were not apparent right after the injury. Things such as long-term medical care or loss of earnings often result from a severe injury and should be accounted for when calculating damages. Accordingly, it is important to discuss any potential long-term damages with a seasoned personal injury attorney before filing an administrative claim.
Reasons to Hire Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC
Our attorneys are known throughout the state for their tenacity in the courtroom and their genuine compassion for injured Georgians. We understand how it feels, not knowing where to turn after being injured, and we’re here to protect your legal rights and best interests every step of the way.
The legal process can be even more daunting when the party responsible for your injury is the United States government. But don’t let that deter you from justice — when you suffer wrongdoing, it’s important to hold the responsible party accountable, even if that means the federal government.
Because we work with you to develop a comprehensive legal strategy that fits your needs and circumstances, we can employ our skills to aggressively fight for everything you need to get your life back.
If you believe you have a claim or if you have any questions regarding the Federal Tort Claims Act, contact our office today.
What does the government look for in its investigation?
After an FTCA claim is filed, the government will investigate the claim in order to assess whether or not the issue is covered under federal tort law. There are a few things the government will look for in the investigation. First, they will confirm that the incident actually happened, and gather the information about the scenario.
Then, they will likely interview the government employee accused of negligence to help determine if wrong was done. Generally speaking, the United States will be looking for evidence that a legal tort occurred, that the tort happened as a result of the actions of a government employee who was on duty, and that the employee acted with negligence that caused the harm done to the claimant.
The investigator will also look at your actions to determine whether you played some part in the accident or caused it yourself. While they only have six months for their investigation, the federal government has nearly unlimited resources available to protect themselves.
If the government agency admits fault, it will pay all or part of the requested monetary damages to the individual who filed the claim. If they deny that they were at fault, then the claimant has six months after that to file a lawsuit against the United States in a United States District Court.
Not only is the FTCA claims process very involved, it is also much more complex than civil tort law. If you have a federal tort claim to file, set yourself up for success with a Georgia FTCA lawyer representing you. A local attorney skilled in FTCA claims will make sure your case gets the justice you deserve.
How long do I have to file?
The statute of limitations for filing an FTCA claim is two years. In order to be considered, an FTCA claim generally must be properly filed within two years of the incident in question. The U.S. government has six months from the filing date to conduct an investigation before settling with the claimant or denying any liability in the claim.
Benefit from Our Experience – Contact Our Federal Tort Claims Act Catastrophic Injury Attorneys Today
If you have never been involved in a legal action before, satisfying all the requirements can be a confusing and arduous process. Contact Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC for years of experience filing claims on behalf of victims in personal injury cases. We have taken on tough defendants, such as the United States government, before and recovered compensation for our clients.
Our experience handling these matters is a valuable asset when filing a suit for injuries caused by the federal government. Our Georgia catastrophic injury attorneys understand how injuries impact your life and we will not stop fighting until you receive the total compensation you deserve.
Call Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC at (404) 891-9150 in Atlanta or (912) 867-9140 in Savannah.