Can You Sue the Government for Negligence?

can you sue the government

We all know it’s possible to sue any person or business for various crimes and wrongful or negligent acts. But maybe you’ve wondered: can you sue the government for negligence? In short, yes you can. If you’re thinking about suing the government for wronging you, you need extremely strong legal defense from Curcio & Casciato on your side. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys are here for you. We prioritize every attorney-client relationship while fighting to give you the best-case outcome possible. Call 312-321-1111 for a free consultation.

Examples of Government Negligence

Suing the local or federal government for negligence sounds like a large and impossible feat. Also, you may be wondering how the government can even commit negligent acts towards individuals. Listed below are some generic examples of local, state, and federal government negligence that you could certainly sue for:

  • A city-owned car or truck caused a car accident
  • You suffered injuries caused by city owned heavy equipment
  • You suffered personal injuries caused by a mass transit accident
  • Any kind of nursing or health care negligence at a city owned center
  • You suffered personal injuries caused by city construction
  • Major birth injuries caused by employees at a state or city owned hospital
  • Wrongful jail sentence
  • A local road issue caused property damage or a personal injury
  • A federal government employee committed some kind of negligent or wrongful act that injured you
  • Medical malpractice by an Army doctor
  • A federal government vehicle – such as a U.S. Postal Service vehicle – crashes into you
  • Wrongful death caused by employees at a VA hospital
  • A nurse practitioner at a federal clinic failed to diagnose you
  • You suffered a personal injury caused by unsafe conditions at a federal government building

What is the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)?

President Harry Truman signed The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) into law in 1946 in order to provide damages for those who suffered personal injury, death, property loss, or property damage caused by a:

  • Federal government employee,
  • Federal government agency,
  • State government employee, or a
  • State government agency.

However, citizens cannot sue their entire state due to a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity. Basically, this doctrine claims that states can’t commit legal crimes and therefore citizens can’t sue them. While the Federal Tort Claims Act exists to provide damages to those who sue the government, it cannot provide punitive damages. 

What are Claims That the Federal Tort Claims Act Won’t Cover?

According to the FTCA, people can’t file a lawsuit due to certain circumstances such as:

  • An employee’s failure to perform an optional task.
  • Many intentional torts, which are basically civil wrongdoings that a federal agency or employee did intentionally.

One of the few intentional torts that the FTCA will certainly cover are those committed by police officers. If you think you qualify to sue the federal government for personal injury or another wrongful act or omission, contact the attorneys at Curcio & Casciato first. Our law firm will ensure that you have a solid FTCA claim against the government before you actually file suit.

How to File an Administrative Claim for Government Negligence

If you’re interested in suing the government, the claims process is a little different. You must first file an administrative claim within two years of the accident or wrongful conduct. Then, you can sue the federal government agency that wronged you. For example, if you were injured due to some kind of dangerous condition at your local post office, you would start your legal journey by filing an administrative claim with the U.S. Postal Service. You can do this easily by filing an SF95 form from the federal government.

How the Administrative Claim Process Works

Firstly, you must file an administrative claim within two years from the day the incident occurred. If you don’t file your claim within that time frame, you won’t recover damages or receive justice for your accident. 

What to Include in Your Administrative Claim

It’s important to be as specific as possible when you file your claim. In other words, specify the exact amount of money you want to receive in damages because you likely won’t be able to change this number later. Additionally, you need to include as many details about your accident as possible so that the federal agency you’re complaining about can thoroughly investigate. 

When the Federal Agency Will Get Back to You

You’ll likely hear back from the agency within six months. They will either agree that your accident or incident is valid and therefore you should receive compensation, they will deny it, or they will offer less compensation than you asked for.

When Can You Sue the Government?

Once you’ve received some kind of response from the agency, you can sue the federal government within the next six months. But you should contact an experienced lawyer and file a lawsuit as soon as possible, especially if you didn’t receive the compensation you asked for.

If government agencies don’t respond to claims within six months, filers can wait until they hear back before they sue the federal government. Basically, the clock only starts ticking once the agency has responded to the claim.

Filing a Lawsuit in Federal Court

The next step after filing an administrative claim is filing a lawsuit at your nearest U.S. District Court. You can only ask for more compensation in your federal court claim if you include evidence about your case that you just discovered. If the evidence certainly supports a higher amount of compensation, the attorneys at our law firm can help you fight for this increase.

How to Prove Government Negligence

In order to have the best chances of winning your lawsuit in federal court, you must prove the four basic elements of negligence. They are:

  • Duty of Care: The federal employees or the agency owed you a specific duty of care.
  • Breach of Duty of Care: The federal employee or agency breached this duty of care that they certainly owed you.
  • Causation: The breached duty of care from the federal employees or agency caused serious injury, death, property damage, etc.
  • Damages: Compensation could cover the serious injuries, death, or property damage from the federal government’s negligent acts.

Attorneys at our law firm will thoroughly study the facts of your case and help you prove the elements of negligence.

What is the Illinois Court of Claims Act?

If you’re an Illinois resident and you’re looking to sue a state government agency or employee, you first need to learn about the Illinois Court of Claims Act. Basically, this statute describes the type of claims the court will hear if someone decides to file a lawsuit against state governments or agencies. It’s important to note that sovereign immunity is limited under the Illinois Court of Claims Act. 

What Kind of Negligence Does Illinois Cover?

An Illinois resident can sue their state government for personal injury as long as they could also file the same claim against a private person or business. Examples include:

  • A person hit and injured by a post office vehicle can file a valid claim under the Illinois Court of Claims act just like a victim in a car accident could sue another driver.
  • Private individuals can file premises liability claims if a dangerous condition on state property caused an injury.
  • A victim of medical malpractice can sue doctors and nurses and state hospitals.
  • Any other negligence claims where state government agencies or employees don’t take proper care of their people.

You can find more claim specifics under Illinois state law.

Time Limitations for Lawsuits Against the Illinois Government

You must file your claim in a timely manner, and you can do so in two ways. The first way is to provide a notice of claim to the Court of Claims Clerk and the Attorney General within one year of your accident or injury. The second way is to sue the at-fault agency or employee through the Court of Claims within one year of your accident or injury. Providing a notice of claim isn’t necessary if you file within one year. But you certainly need to file within two years of your accident, even if you provided a notice.

You must file claims regarding a local government employee’s “willful and wanton” misconduct within one year. But if your claim is about medical negligence, you must file within two years.

Damages For a Negligent Act Caused by Government Agency

As stated previously, plaintiffs won’t receive punitive damages from the state or federal government for personal injury or property damage. However, you could win economic and non-economic damages from suing the government.

Economic Damages

Depending on the type of accident, economic damages from a negligent act could include:

  • Past, present, and future medical bills
  • Past, present, and future rehabilitative care
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Loss of earning capacity

Non-Economic Damages

Depending on the type of accident, non-economic damages from negligence claims could include:

can you sue the government for negligence

Call Curcio & Casciato Today

If you or someone you love is suffering due to the government’s negligent acts, you may be wondering: can you sue the government for negligence? Curcio & Casciato will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, study the facts of your case, and put up an aggressive fight towards your wrongdoers. Everyone deserves justice, even from the government. For a free consultation, call us today at 312-321-1111.

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