What Is The Federal Tort Claims Act And What Does It Cover?

Like most legal codes, there are a plethora of differences between medical malpractice laws at the state level when compared to the federal level. What happens when you determine medical malpractice at a federally funded clinic? These institutions receive funding from the federal government — and we all know that the federal government likes to shield itself from litigation whenever possible.

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is old. It was enacted all the way back in 1946, but it’s still valid today. The FTCA was written to help compensate victims of medical malpractice or personal injury when the negligent party (or defendant in court) was a federal employee. 

According to the FTCA: “United States [is] liable … in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances but [is not ] liable for interest prior to judgment or for punitive damages.”

This differs somewhat from most state laws, which allow a judge to call for punitive damages against a defendant when the negligence was egregious enough to make additional punishment necessary.

The FTCA also says that this is the “exclusive means by which a party may sue the United States for money damages … in tort.”

How do you know whether or not a clinic receives federal funding or whether a doctor or surgeon is considered a federal employee? Well, you can try researching on the clinic’s website — but the easiest way is just to find a medical malpractice attorney and ask for help figuring out which laws matter and whether or not you have a good case in the first place. Unfortunately, medical malpractice isn’t easy to prove, and the federal government isn’t exactly going to roll over even when at fault.

Allegations of tort must be well detailed and proved. A tort claim must be filed within a two-year statute of limitations. In other words, don’t delay.

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