Home General Government-owned Railroads: Does Sovereign Immunity protect them?

Government-owned Railroads: Does Sovereign Immunity protect them?


If you have been injured in a railroad accident, you may seek compensation for their property loss or injuries under the FTCA (Federal Tort Claims Act). This act applies when the railroad operator or owner that caused your injuries is operated or owned by the federal government. That means if you were injured by a train owned by the federal government, you are supposed to file a lawsuit against the government.

Note that a lawsuit against the government is vastly different from bringing a lawsuit against a private company or citizen. There are specific steps that you must follow. Otherwise, your claim won’t be honored, and you will lose the chance to be compensated for your injuries.

Filing a train accident claim in accordance with the Federal Tort Claim isn’t as straightforward as most people think. Before you start the process, you must be sure that your accident claim is eligible for prosecution under the act. If you opt to proceed and your claim isn’t eligible, you might end up wasting valuable time and probably put your complaint in jeopardy. This is the reason you should hire an NJ transit line accident attorney to review your case.

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Federal Tort Claims Act

Before the FTCA was passed, citizens couldn’t sue the federal government for injuries and property damage caused by a railroad or any other agency owned by the federal government. This inability of an individual to sue the federal government is known as sovereign immunity. But the enactment of the Federal Tort Claims Act in 1948 waived, and the specific lawsuit was allowed to be filed against the government in court.

However, your accident injury claim should fall within the set scope of what FTCA is meant to cover or any form of sovereign immunity that the federal government enjoys in many situations won’t be waived, and your lawsuit might be dropped. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a federal agency or employees acting within the federal government environment, the FTCA might apply in your claim. Note that it’s important to determine if your claim adheres to this act as soon as you can.

A victim of a railroad accident can bring a claim under the FTCA to recover financial damages for injuries or even death caused by negligent choices or errors by a federal government’s employee. The following conditions should be met.

  • The individual must be an employee of the government, not a contractor.
  • The negligent actions should have occurred when the employee was acting within the capacity of his or her employment duties.
  • Only actions of negligence are covered by the FTCA. Contemplated harmful acts such as battery, assault, and other torts are not covered.
  • Your claim should be based on the state law where the accident occurred, and the claim should be allowed by the state law as well.

Note that the entire process of suing a railroad agency owned by the federal government isn’t an easy task. It’s advisable to hire a competent lawyer.