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Can I Sue The Government?

Sovereign immunity is one of the few laws that has stood the test of time, ruling that civilians cannot sue the government unless given permission by the government. Seems a little counter intuitive, right? In a modern adaption, the Federal Tort Claims Act  (FTCA) has expanded the law to include specific situations in which it is legal and accessible to sue federal officials who have acted negligently within the scope of their responsibilities. So, if you suffered from medical malpractice by a Veterans Administration doctor, or had a slip-and-fall accident at a government building, you may be able to sue the officials who acted negligently, causing your personal injury.

Will the FTCA Accept Your Claim?

As with most federal agencies, the process of filing a claim is much longer than suing another civilian or private company. There are limits to what monetary damages the FTCA will approve of for personal injuries, wrongful death and even property damage. Every situation essentially has it’s own practice per the FTCA regulations, but here are some blanket ideas that describe when you can or cannot sue the federal government.

  • Independent contractors of the federal government cannot be sued under the FTCA, unless treated like a fully employed government official.
  • The negligent act must be made within the scope of employment. The FTCA will not approve a claim that happened outside work hours or obligations of the official.
  • Claims of negligence are the only claims approved of by the FTCA. Not intentional misconduct or any other situations that resemble negligence.
  • The state law in which the action occurred is the basis of the claim and provides the guidelines for the case.
  • The claim must be based on -- and permitted by -- the law of the state in which the misconduct occurred.

How to File an Administrative Claim

Unlike a claim against a fellow civilian, the FTCA requires an administrative claim to the agency responsible for your injuries. This is an extra step before court in order to inform the agency of its misconduct and prepare them for the case that will soon follow. The form provided by federal government requiring you to fill out to address the agency is considered an “administrative claim.” It is reviewed by the agency and ruled on within six months of filing. In order to ensure all of your needs are met and all damages you request are paid off, follow these few guidelines.

  • File your claim within two years of the injury
  • Include as many details of the causes and damages incurred
  • If your claim is denied by the agency, you have six months to file an official lawsuit
  • If the agency does not report back in six months, you may file a lawsuit immediately

Dealing with the federal government can be a tricky situation full of loopholes and confusing fine print details. Instead of going at it alone, hire a personal injury lawyer at Colley & Colley law firm in Tyler, Texas. Contact us today for a free consultation.