Federal Tort Claims Act Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Federal Tort Claims Act, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Federal Tort Claims Act?

n. A 1948 statute that eradicated the federal government’s power to claim immunity from a lawsuit for damages due to a federal employee’s negligent or intentional injury the occurred in the scope of his/her government work. In addition, it created a set of regulations and format for issuing claims, providing the federal district courts with jurisdiction.

History and Meaning of Federal Tort Claims Act

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) was enacted in 1946 to allow individuals to sue the United States government for torts committed by federal employees while acting within the scope of their employment. Prior to its enactment, the government was immune to tort suits. The FTCA provides a limited waiver of the government's sovereign immunity and opens the door for individuals to bring tort lawsuits against the government for civil wrongs caused by its employees.

Examples of Federal Tort Claims Act

  1. If a postal worker negligently drives their mail truck and hits your vehicle, you may sue the U.S. government under FTCA.
  2. If a federal employee causes an injury while working on a military base, you may sue the federal government under FTCA.
  3. If a doctor is employed by the Veteran's Administration and commits medical malpractice, you may sue the U.S. government under FTCA.

Legal Terms Similar to Federal Tort Claims Act

  1. Sovereign immunity: The legal doctrine that a sovereign government cannot be sued unless it gives permission to do so.
  2. Vicarious liability: A legal concept where one party is held responsible for the actions of another.
  3. Negligence: Failure to take reasonable care to avoid injury or loss to another person.