Federal Tort Claims Act

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The Federal Tort Claims Act, also known as the FTCA, is a federal statute which authorizes private tort actions against the United States where, if the United States were a private person, it would be liable to the claimant according to the law of the place where a particular act or omission occurred. The FTCA is codified at 28 U.S.C. Chapter 171.

In practice, the FTCA makes the United States liable for the acts of its employees in a similar manner to any other employer. That said, the FTCA does not grant the United States liability for the majority of intentional actions of its employees and does not allow for punitive damages.

[Last updated in January of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]