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Federal Tort Claims Act — Scope of Employment

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) applies to claims for personal injury that are caused by the negligence of a federal government employee who is acting within the scope of his or her employment, under circumstances where a private person would be liable under state law. Therefore, in order for the FTCA to apply, the employee’s negligence must occur within the scope of his or her employment. Generally, a federal government employee is acting within the scope of his or her employment if the employee is engaged in an authorized activity that serves a governmental purpose.

For example, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is involved in an automobile accident with a pedestrian. The accident occurs on Thanksgiving Day, when the agent is off-duty and while he is driving to his mother’s house. In that case, the agent is not acting within the scope of his employment when his negligence occurs, so the pedestrian cannot file a personal injury action against the federal government under the FTCA. However, if the agent is performing surveillance work for the FBI at the time of the accident, then he is acting within the scope of his employment when his negligence occurs, and the pedestrian has a claim against the federal government under the FTCA.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.