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Federal Tort Claims Act Statute of Limitations (All You Need To Know)

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What is the statute of limitations for federal tort claims?

What should you know?

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What Is The Federal Tort Claims Act Statute of Limitations 

Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), an injured person can file a lawsuit for the recovery of damages against a federal employee liable for the damages.

Particularly, the FTCA applies to medical malpractice types of claims committed by federal employees, health care providers, and health practitioners.

The statute of limitations Federal Tort Claims Act is essentially two years.

Any injured person must file a lawsuit within 2 years of the injury caused by the defendant’s negligence.

Otherwise, the action will be forever time-barred.

Typically, the federal government benefits from sovereign immunity shielding it from claims and possible liability.

The FTCA is a limited waiver to the United States government’s immunity where injured persons are granted the right to pursue the government for negligence and tort claims.

What Is Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitation refer to the time period a claimant (the plaintiff) has to file a lawsuit (or claim) against another party (the defendant).

In essence, to say “statute of limitations” is to say “deadline”.

For example, if the law allows for an injured person to file a negligence claim within 2 years of the injury (or personal injury), you can say that the 2-year period is the “statute of limitations” or “deadline” established in law for claims to be filed.

If the claim is not filed within the legally defined time period, the legal action will be legally time-barred.

What Is The FTCA?

The Federal Tort Claims Act is a federal statute in the United States allowing individuals and injured people to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government due to the negligence, wrongful acts, or injuries caused by its employees.

In other words, if a federal employee, working within the scope of his or her employment causes injury or death to another, can expose the U.S. government to compensate for damages caused.

For example, military veterans and service members (or their representatives) may invoke the Federal Tort Claims Act for compensation relating to surgical errors, brain injuries, failure to diagnose, or even wrongful death.

Federal Tort Claims Statute of Limitations Legal Basis

The U.S. Code, Title 28, part IV, Chapter 161, Section 2401 provides the legal basis for the statute of limitations under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

The 28 U.S.C § 2401(b) is formulated as follows:

A tort claim against the United States shall be forever barred unless it is presented in writing to the appropriate Federal agency within two years after such claim accrues or unless action is begun within six months after the date of mailing, by certified or registered mail, of notice of final denial of the claim by the agency to which it was presented.

In other words, the FTCA statute of limitation is of two years.

FTCA Claim Process

Let’s briefly look at the administrative claim process when filing an FTCA claim.

To ensure that you take the right steps in filing a claim, you should consult with a qualified and experienced attorney who understands the Federal Tort Claims Act and the statute of limitations.

This article is intended to provide you general information and guidance.

Administrative Claim

The first step is to file a claim with the federal agency against whom you intend to file an action.

For example, the victim of military medical malpractice will start the process by completing Standard Form 95. 

The administrative claim is crucial as an injured person must file this claim and give the government agency at least six months to investigate the matter before filing a lawsuit before the federal court.

If the agency does not respond in six months or formally denies the claim, the injured person can then file a lawsuit before the courts (provided it respects the two-year deadline). 

In some cases, the government agency takes more time than six months to respond, in that case, the claimant can file suit before the court.

Discovery Rule

The discovery rule is a notion providing an injured party potentially more time to file suit against the government.

In some cases, the victim discovers the wrongful act much later in time.

Some claims under the FTCA fall under the discovery rule and to ensure the victim has a fair chance of filing a claim, the statute of limitations may start running as of the moment the victim became “aware” or “discovered” the injury or should have known about it.

Statute of Repose

The statute of repose is similar to the notion of “statute of limitations” whereby it’s a legal timeline allowed to file a lawsuit.

Although the FTCA does not contain a statute of response, many states have adopted such a statute of repose for medical malpractice claims.

If a claimant does not file suit within a certain period of time, based on the statute of repose, the claimant’s right to file suit will be extinguished.

What’s notable with the statutes of repose is that they represent an “absolute” bar to file suit after the timeline has expired.

Federal Preemption

A person may argue against the application of the state’s statute of repose by invoking the argument of the “Federal Preemption”.

The notion of Federal Preemption is to state that when state laws conflict with federal laws, the federal law will preempt the state law.

In the matter Kubrick v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the FTCA preempts the applicable state limitation periods.

FTCA Statute of Limitations Takeaways 

So what does the Federal Tort Claims Act Statute of Limitations entail?

What are the timelines you need to observe to file a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Federal Tort Claims Act Statute of Limitations 28 USC 2401

  • A person looking to file a lawsuit against another for damages must do so within the legally allotted time period called the statute of limitations
  • A claim filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act follows the same principle where a negligence claim must be filed before the courts within two years of the injury 
  • The first step is to file an administrative claim with the relevant federal agency where they will have six months to review and investigate the matter
  • If the administrative decision denies the claim or the agency does not respond within six months, the claimant can file suit before the courts
Attorney General 
Discovery Rule
Federal employee 
Federal preemption 
Federal Tort Claims Act pain and suffering
FTCA statute of limitations tolling 
Independent contractors 
Personal liability 
Request for reconsideration 
Settlement offer 
Sovereign immunity 
Statute of Repose 
Tort litigation 
Tucker Act statute of limitations 
Westfall Act 
Wrongful death
Attorney’s fees 
Certificate of Merit Statute 
Civil lawsuit 
Contingency fees 
Define defendant 
Define plaintiff
Due care 
Equitable tolling 
Legal consultation 
Litigation venue 
Medical malpractice 
Negligence definition 
Pain and suffering damages
Professional malpractice 
Professional negligence
Retainer fees
Tort claim 
Tort definition 
Trial lawyer

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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