Does Sovereign Immunity Apply if a Government Agency Was Negligent?

The federal government operates under a different set of rules than state or local governments. While some aspects may be similar, others are different. In an effort to stop flagrant lawsuits against state and local government agencies, sovereign immunity was enacted. The law originated from similar laws in England which barred British citizens from filing claims of wrongdoing against the monarchy. In America, the law is also known as governmental immunity.

However, if you get hurt due to the negligence of a government agency, can you sue for damages? While there is a process that allows this action, it is often complicated, lengthy and may not yield the results you need.

Action Allowed by the Federal Tort Claims Act 

The Federal Tort Claims Act or FTCA establishes the situations that may afford a person to file a civil lawsuit against a government entity or company. The litmus test for negligence under the FTCA is that a government entity or worker behaved carelessly or recklessly resulting in an injury to someone else. Examples of this include a car accident occurring in the course of an FBI pursuit or a mail carrier striking and injuring someone crossing the street. While it is not always easy to prove negligence in any personal injury case, it is even more difficult under the FTCA.

Limitations of the FTCA 

The FTCA gives detailed information on what does and does not qualify for a tort action against the government. The scope is narrow, and the limitations are numerous. Some of the restrictions are highlighted below and provide a glimpse into what qualifies for litigation under the FTCA.

Government employees: This detail is limited to people who work directly for the government entity under scrutiny, not subcontractors. These days, many agencies contract out work to keep costs low. As such, some people hold credentials for a government entity even though they are not directly employed by it.

Scope of employment: The negligent behavior must have occurred during the person’s work duties. If the mail carrier was finished with the route and returning home, the government cannot be sued under this condition.

Intentional acts: The FTCA covers negligent behavior or action only. As such, any deliberate act of wrongdoing by a government worker may not be eligible for tort. Exceptions do exist to account for the actions of some law enforcement officers.

If you find yourself injured as the result of a government agency’s negligence, you may have a case under the law. However, it is a good idea to get more information from a personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis, IN to ensure you are adequately represented in what may be a difficult case.

Thanks to Ward & Ward Law Firm for their insight into personal injury claims and sovereign immunity.