The following amounts will be excluded from a
claimants recovery under the FTCA:
Punitive damages. Many states permit the plaintiff
in a tort action to recover additional money from the
defendant beyond the amount required to compensate
the plaintiff for his or her loss. Such damages are known
as punitive damages because they are awarded to punish
a defendant who has engaged in conduct that is wanton,
malicious, outrageous, or shocking to the courts
conscience. Under the FTCA, the government is not
liable for any punitive damages that might otherwise be
permitted by state law.
. Interest before judgment.
. Value of government benefits. When the
government is liable to pay an FTCA claim by a military
member, and the claim is not barred by the Feres
doctrine, the value of government benefits (such as
medical care, rehabilitation, and disability benefits) will
be deducted from the military members recovery.
l While there is no maximum to the amount of
recovery permitted under the FTCA, any FTCA
payment in excess of $25,000 requires the prior written
approval of the Attorney General of the United States or
his or her designee.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The FTCA contains several strict time limits that
include the following:
. Two-year statute of limitations. The claimant has
2 years from the date the claim against the government
accrued in which to present a written claim. If the
claimant fails to present his or her claim within 2 years,
it is barred forever.
A claim accrues when the act or
incident giving rise to the claim occurs, or when the
claimant learns or reasonably should have learned about
the wrongful nature of the government employees
conduct. Thus, a claim arising out of an automobile
accident would normally accrue when the accident
occurred. A claim arising out of medical malpractice
will not accrue, however, until the claimant learns or
reasonably should have learned about the malpractice.
Six-month waiting period. When a claimant
presents an FTCA claim to a federal agency, the agency
has 6 months in which to act on the claim. During this
waiting period, unless the agency has made a final
denial, the claimant may not file suit on the claim in
federal court. If, after 6 months, the agency has not
taken final action on the claim, the claimant may then
file suit under the FTCA in federal district court without
waiting any longer for the agency to act.
l Six-month time limit for filing suit. After the
federal agency mails written notice of its final denial on
the claim, the claimant has 6 months in which to file suit
on the claim in federal district court. If suit is not filed
within 6 months, the claim will be barred forever.
However, before this 6-month time limit expires, the
claimant may request reconsideration of the denial of
his or her claim. The agency then has 6 months in which
to reconsider the claim. If the claim is again denied, the
claimant has another 6 months in which to file suit.
The following procedures apply not only to FTCA
claims, but also, in large part, to claims cognizable under
other claims statutes.
Significant variations in
procedures under other claims acts will be noted in the
sections of this chapter dealing with those other statutes,
The first step is usually the presentment of the claim
to a federal agency of the government. When a claim is
properly presented, the statute of limitations is tolled. A
claim against the government is presented when a
federal agency receives a written claim for money
damages. A claim may be presented by ( 1 ) the injured
party for personal injury; (2) the owner of damaged or
lost property; (3) the claimants personal or legal
representative; or (4) a subrogee who assumed the legal
rights of another person.
Contents of the Claim
As discussed previously, when a claim is properly
presented, the statute of limitations stops running. To
be properly presented, the claim must satisfy the
l In writing.
The claim must be in writing.
Standard Form 95, Claim for Damage or Injury, should
be used whenever possible. See figure 12-1.
l Signed. The claim must be signed by a proper
l Claims money damages in a sum certain. The
claim must demand a specific dollar amount. The courts
have consistently held that a claim is not presented until
it states a sum certain. If the claimant fails to state a sum
certain, then the claim does not constitute a claim for
purposes of complying with the jurisdictional
prerequisites of the FTCA. Observance of the sum
certain requirement does not prevent the claimant from