Federal Tort Claims Process

The Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2671-2680, provides an avenue for a plaintiff to recover against the United States government for property damage, personal injuries, or death caused by the negligence or wrongful act or omission of federal employees.

Presenting a claim to the appropriate federal agency

Before a plaintiff can file a federal tort claims lawsuit, it must first present its claim to the appropriate federal agency. The plaintiff must do this within two years from the date of injury. The easiest way to present a claim to a federal agency is to download and utilize Standard Form 95. The plaintiff must specify a sum certain, also known as a specific dollar amount, for damages. If the claim eventually proceeds to a lawsuit, the sum certain acts as a cap on damages unless certain exceptions apply, including newly discovered evidence.

Filing a lawsuit

If the federal agency issues a final denial of the claim, the plaintiff may then file a lawsuit. Alternatively, the plaintiff can request a reconsideration of an agency’s final denial before proceeding with filing a lawsuit.  In cases where the federal agency does not issue a determination within six months after the claim is filed, the plaintiff may treat the lack of response as a final denial and file a lawsuit. It is important to remember the plaintiff must first present and report its claim to the appropriate federal agency before filing a lawsuit. Examples of such agencies include, but are not limited to, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Veterans Affairs, and so on. You may view a partial list of federal agencies here. Next, the plaintiff must wait to receive a denial, or six months with no response, before filing a lawsuit. The proper defendant in the lawsuit is the United States of America, regardless of the identity of the specific agency.  Pursuing a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act is complicated, which is why we recommend contacting one of our subrogation attorneys to discuss your file.