In the Washington, D.C. area, it is not uncommon to see government workers conducting official business while out on the road. Inevitably, government workers – like other drivers – will get involved in motor vehicle accidents. In these situations, the question often arises of when an accident victim can hold the government responsible for the actions of an employee.
As a general rule, state and federal governments cannot be sued without their consent. However, almost all states – as well as the federal government – have passed a series of laws that explain when a government will agree to be sued. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the federal government waives its immunity in cases involving personal injuries caused by employees under certain circumstances.
In order for immunity to be waived, an accident victim must show that the government employee was engaging in a ministerial task that was within the course of their employment when the injury occurred. This can be broken down into two elements: