I’ve Fallen – Can I Sue the Government When I Get Up?

Personal Injury Lawyer

In a litigious society such as ours, it seems unbelievable that there is any person or entity that can’t be sued. However, there is something known in common law as sovereign immunity. Basically, it says that the government cannot be sued without its consent. It is a very old doctrine derived from British law created to protect monarchies and it applies to all governments except municipalities. But the answer to the question of whether a government can be sued is not an easy answer. Surprisingly, the answer is, “It depends.” In 1946, the Federal Tort Claims Act was passed. It allows private citizens to sue a representative acting on behalf of the US government in federal court.

Personal Injury

You are pulling into the intersection on a green light when, seemingly out of nowhere, a mail truck runs the red light and crashes into you. Under the FTCA, even though the US Postal Service is a government office, you may be able to seek damages in federal court for injury, property loss and wrongful death due to negligence. If you are hit by a postal worker who is in his personal vehicle and not acting as an agent of the government office at that time, then you would not have a case against the government, but instead against the postal worker as a private citizen. Even though you may have a case to sue the government, it is not an easy process. You must first file a Notice of Claim within 2 years of the incident. The agency has a right to take 6 months to issue a ruling. If you have a compelling case, they may come back and offer you compensation without having to go to court. On the other hand, they may deny the claim. At that point, you may proceed to a lawsuit as long as it is within 6 months of the date the ruling was mailed to you.

Rights Violation

If you feel that your civil rights have been violated, you may have reason to file a Section 1983 claim. Examples of civil rights violations are retaliatory firing, false arrest, violation of due process or excessive force by police officers. A Section 1982 claim must be filed within 180 days of the incident.

Contact a personal injury lawyer in Trenton, NJ if you feel you’ve suffered a loss attributable to an employee of the government while acting within the scope of their job.



Thanks to Davis & Brusca for their insight into personal injury claims and slip and fall injuries.