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Fox Farley Willis & Burnette Attorneys At Law
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Bringing Lawsuits Against the Federal Government


You can sue the state if the state’s negligence causes your injuries, although it isn’t easy, under what is known as Sovereign Immunity. But that’s the state. What about the federal government?

Of course, the federal government is a large part of our lives, and has agents and employees in a multitude of industries and positions. So it isn’t unexpected that at some point, someone could get injured by someone working for the federal government.

Waiver of Immunity

Just like the state, the federal government has waived its immunity to be sued. Suing the government, when we were mostly under English law, was unheard of—you just don’t sue “The King.” And just like the state of Tennessee, the federal government has its own law that says when and how people injured by the government can sue. It’s called the Federal Tort Claims Act or FTCA.

Understanding the FTCA

The FTCA protects the federal government and all of its agencies, from medical hospitals run by the veterans administration, to law enforcement agents or federal marshals on our streets to the ways you can get injured inside of any government building.

But there are a number of steps that must be met—you don’t just haul the government into court the way that you would any other negligent Defendant.

The first thing to determine is whether the person that injured you, was a contractor or an employee, because the government is not liable for what its contractors do, the way a private business would be.

The other question is whether or not the employee is or was acting in the course and scope of his employment, which is a question that is asked in every employee-employer case. In most cases, the answer to this question is yes.

The claim made must be one that would otherwise be allowed under the applicable state law, wherever the accident occurred, if the claim had been brought under that state’s law.

No Injuries Overseas

Note that the FTCA does prohibit lawsuits against the government for any injury that happens overseas.

This is most applicable to members of the military but could apply to employees that work overseas in embassies and on other government projects. And there is no exception which would allow members of the military to bring FTCA claims, if they otherwise could not be brought because the claims happened overseas.

Time Limits

You only have two years to bring any claim against the federal government. To bring a claim, you don’t just directly and immediately file your case in court. You have to present your claim to the government agency that would be liable for your accident. That claim must state how much your damages are—an important aspect because if you do have to file a lawsuit later on, you cannot get more than what you asked for in your original claim.

Injured by the federal government? Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today to see how we can help you with your injury case.


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