Negligence or wrongdoing by one party against another opens the possibility of a personal injury claim in civil court. What if the negligent party is a government employee or member of the military?
Citizens should know their rights when it comes to bringing a suit against the government for personal injury.
Concerns from a recent incident
NBC 7 San Diego reports that prosecutors charged four active-duty Marines for felony vandalism on a San Diego Zoo ride. The young men allegedly rocked the Skyfari Aerial Team gondola back and forth as it carried riders on a Saturday afternoon.
The actions caused the ride to halt, stranding about 100 passengers for over two hours. Police arrested the four defendants, who await trial after posting $20,000-bonds.
What if the men’s actions caused a severe injury? Can harmed individuals sue the government or military for damages in any case of harm?
Limits of legal action against the government
A person cannot sue the federal government unless it waives its immunity. The Federal Tort Claims Act limited the reach of sovereign immunity by allowing individuals to sue the government if a federal employee or independent contractor negligently violates the duties of their role.
The California Tort Claims Act allows a lawsuit for negligence in premises liability cases. Such claims exist when a foreknown dangerous condition causes an injury, and a government employee is derelict in resolving the hazard.
The individual actions of an employee or military member while off duty do not necessarily constitute negligence by the government. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, individuals may file claims only when an employee is “acting within the scope of his office or employment.”
To develop a valid personal injury case involving a government employee, a plaintiff must scrupulously ascertain the facts and legalities.