When taking someone to court to compensate you for the injuries that they caused, the most challenging opponent to sue is, by far, the federal government. This is because the federal government is generally immune from a lawsuit, unless there is a specific law that allows them to be liable for your injuries. Oftentimes, a law opening the federal government up to a personal injury lawsuit also comes with strict obstacles that you will not find in any other lawsuit.
A recent case from Georgia shows just how this can work.
A Horrific Bus Crash
The case started with a devastating bus crash. A bus, run by Sky Express, left Greensboro, North Carolina at 10pm on May 30, 2011, bound for New York. At 5am on May 31, it went off the highway and hit an embankment just outside Richmond, Virginia. 4 riders were killed and the remaining 55 were injured, some severely. The driver was later discovered to have fallen asleep at the wheel, and was later convicted.
Federal Oversight of Bus Company Called into Question
The bus operator, a company called Sky Express, had a long history of safety violations. In early April, under two months before the crash, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a compliance review of the company, and found it violated numerous safety requirements. The FMCSA proposed downgrading the company's safety rating so far that it would not be able to carry passengers, essentially putting the bus company out of business.
Sky Express fought the proposed safety rating, showing all of the ways that it would change its company to comply with safety codes. The proposed safety downgrade would have happened on May 28th, but after hearing Sky Express' appeals, the FMCSA delayed it until June 7th.
The crash happened on May 31st.
Injured Passengers Sue the Government
Two of the passengers sued the FMCSA for their decision to delay the safety downgrade, despite Sky Express' terrible record.
One of the laws that allows suffering people to sue the government for their injuries is the Federal Tort Claims Act. However, this law includes an important obstacle: The injuries cannot stem from a “discretionary act” of the government, involving a decision of public policy.
Unfortunately, this meant that the FMCSA's decision to give Sky Express an additional ten days fell within this exception, preventing the injured passengers to get compensation from the government for their pain, suffering, and medical bills.
Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys
Suing the government is no easy task, especially if it is the federal government, not a state or local one. However, this does not mean that it is impossible to get compensated by the government for an injury that it caused. It just means that it is harder to do. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian online or at (800) 529-6162.