In our last post, we noted that there are significant limitations on active duty military members’ ability to seek compensation from the federal government for losses in aviation accidents. Active duty service members may not be able to file lawsuits for damages in many circumstances, but they should work with an experienced aviation law attorney to understand when they may have the right to sue.
For civilians, veterans and military dependants, the ability to recover damages in connection with a military aviation accident is less narrow. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, an injured party as the right to sue the federal government for damages, including personal injury and wrongful death. In order to pursue a claim under the law, though, a party must first exhaust any administrative remedies with the agency responsible for causing the harm.
An injured party has two years after an injury occurs, and six months after final denial of a claim, to file a claim with the responsible military agency. In some cases, the military agency will choose to settle the claim, in which case filing an action under the Federal Tort Claims Act is unnecessary. In cases where the settlement offer is inadequate, one may reject the offer and file a FTCA claim instead.
Building a strong administrative claim against the responsible military agency and under the Federal Tort Claims Act is important in order to ensure an individual harmed by a military aviation accident is fairly compensated. As in any other form of litigation, pursuing claims under the FTCA presents specific challenges for plaintiffs, and working with an experienced attorney can help ensure a plaintiff has the strongest opportunity to obtain fair compensation.