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Florida Personal Injury

What To Do When Injured By An Employee of the United States

The United States directly or indirectly provides health care through various agencies and community partners. Because of this fact, when you are injured in a federally supported or operated facility by an employee of the United States, you have to be aware of federal procedural requirements that must be complied with when pursuing your claim. This was demonstrated by a recent case before the United States District Court for the middle district of Florida.

Rodriguez v. Heart of Florida Health Center, Inc.

Norma Rodriguez was a patient at the Heart of Florida Health Center. Ms. Rodriguez suffered injury while under treatment at the health center and later died. Her estate sued the health center and her doctor for medical malpractice, alleging that as a result of the negligence of the health center and its physician Ms. Rodriguez’s cancer diagnosis was significantly delayed, to the detriment and injury of Ms. Rodriguez. The Rodriguez estate claimed damages for her personal injury on the basis of pain and suffering, disability, diminishment of the enjoyment of life, and death. Rodriguez’s lawyer complied with the notification and investigation requirements for medical malpractice claims under Florida law.

What the plaintiff did not realize was that Heart of Florida Health Center is a federally supported health facility under the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act. As such, the proper party to the medical malpractice action was the United States government, and claims related to the facility, and its employees, were required to proceed under the Federal Tort Claims Act in accordance with its administrative requirements. This resulted in the case being dismissed due to the fact that the court lacked jurisdiction because of the plaintiff’s procedural mistake.

Bringing a Claim Against the Federal Government for Personal Injury

Generally, you cannot sue the federal government of the United States without its permission because of sovereign immunity; however, the Federal Tort Claims Act provides a limited exception for personal injury caused by the negligence of an employee of the United States while acting within the scope of their employment. This limited exception requires that before initiating any action against the federal government or its employees, you must first tender the claim to the applicable federal agency. You cannot initiate a lawsuit until the applicable federal agency either expressly denies your claim, or fails to respond after six months. If you do not follow these procedural requirements, as the Rodriguez case demonstrates, your claim will be dismissed by the court for lack of jurisdiction. After receiving a denial, you have six months to file your action for personal injury with the court.

Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone that you know has been injured by an employee of a the federal government or a federally supported health facility near Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, or West Palm Beach you may have a right to compensation. The time to file your administrative claim is limited to two years. Get the help of the experienced lawyers at The Pendas Law Firm who know the procedural requirements for aggressively pursuing your case and getting you the compensation you deserve. Contact the office today for a confidential consultation regarding the circumstances of your injuries.

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