Can I Bring an Injury Lawsuit Against the Federal Government
What if a doctor at the
VA Hospital makes a mistake, commits
medical malpractice, and I am injured as a result? Can I sue the doctor, assuming I have a
legally valid claim? Yes, the Federal government or a government employee
can be sued in tort for negligently causing a person harm or injury, but
only if the the government employee is actually on the job. This is called
operating within the course and scope of his or her employment. If a US
Postal worker rear ends you in his
own car while he's off work, it's hard to imagine circumstances in
which the Federal government is going to be responsible. But if an employee
of the US government, while on the job,
negligently causes harm to another person, the injured person will most likely be
able to file a lawsuit against the United States.
This was not always the case. Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity,
the government was and is immune from being sued unless it consents to
being sued. Prior to 1946, if the US Government, a government employee
or agency caused a person harm through negligence, the injured citizen's
only recourse was to ask Congress to enact private legislation to afford
some manner of relief for the harm. And in fact this is what people did.
But in 1946 Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) which allowed
an injured citizen to file a federal lawsuit and thereby have an opportunity
for a judicial remedy. The new act, the FTCA, was signed into law by president
The FTCA of 1946 was in may ways the result of frustration in Congress
over the burden of evaluting thousands of legal claims every session.
Prior to 1946 a citizen with a tort claim against the government had to
request that Congress enact a private bill for relief; these requests
were referred to the Committee on Claims in the House of Representatives.
If the hearings committee took favorable action on the claim, it was forwarded
to the House where it was placed on the Private Calender for determination.
The process was cumbersome and hugely ineffecient. Most members of Congress
didn't consider service on the claims committee a desirable appointment.
Today the process is much different. Under the FTCA, tort claims against
the US government or a government employee are filed in US District Court.
Often times, these are claims against doctors or other health care professionals
employed by the US government, typically for alleged medical malpractice
in VA hospitals. Other claims against the government might include premises
liability, like slipping in the post office because of a dangerous condition,
negligent harm in a national park, or getting hit by an FBI agent while driving.
There are numerous tricky aspects to pursing a claim under the FTCA. For
instance there are several types of tort claims that exempt under the
FTCA including assault, false arrest, libel, slander and malicious prosecution.
FTCA claims are quite different than claims against other normal citizen
defendants. If you think the government or a government employee is responsible
for causing you harm, you should call a FTCA attorney to make sure you
protect your legal right to file a lawsuit. A Portland medical malpractice
lawyer at Angel Law, P.C. can help you evaluate medical claims you may
have against the VA hospital for negligent treatment. We handle claims
against the US government at
Angel Law, P.C. under the FTCA, including
medical malpractice cases and others; we're located in dowtown Portland at 621 SW Morrison
Street, Suite 1250, Portland Oregon.