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Government Accountability: The Complex Path of Suing the United States

Have you ever wondered if it is feasible to sue the United States government? Have you been wronged by a government agency or department? Are you unsure about what the legal experience can be like? 

The concept of the government being held accountable to its citizens is an ideal one. Thus let us explore this subject in further detail.

Why Would Someone Want to Sue the Government?

It is not just corporations and civilians that can commit wrongdoings. There are many instances where actions by the government cause harm to citizens. Often, such harm happens through negligence. Take the famous Camp Lejeune scandal that started in the 50s. 

Toxic, contaminated water made its way into the living quarters of Marines, staff, and family members at the Camp Lejeune Military base. The contamination and resulting health consequences could have been avoided if officials had been more vigilant.

As a result of the disaster, widespread litigation occurred. The U.S. government will need to pay Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts to several affected individuals. 

If you are a victim of the Camp Lejeune disaster, TorHoerman Law states that your compensation could range anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000, depending on how seriously you were affected. Regardless of why you wish to sue the government, the actual process of doing so is going to be more of a concern to you. 

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It’s Not Going to Be a Cake Walk

Suing the government can be a complex and challenging process. There are often specific rules and procedures that apply when taking legal action against the government.

Before you even think about filing a suit, you will need to consult with an experienced attorney. Government lawsuits can be intricate, and an experienced attorney can guide you through the often convoluted and confusing process.  They can help you understand the relevant laws and regulations, and ensure you are meeting all the necessary formalities.

For instance, you may need to exhaust all available administrative remedies before you even have the chance to file a lawsuit. This often means going through the department’s internal complaint procedures or appeals process. Failure to do so may impact your ability to sue.

Thorough Documentation Will Be Critical

Keep thorough records of all interactions with the government department, including communications, documentation, and any relevant evidence that supports your claim. In legal proceedings, the burden of proof lies with the party bringing the lawsuit. 

To succeed in your case against the government, you need to provide sufficient evidence to prove your claims. Considering how bureaucratic a lawsuit against the government can be, documentation will be one of your major concerns. 

You Have to Be Allowed to Sue the Government

Governments often enjoy a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity, which provides them with immunity from certain types of lawsuits. 

This means that in many cases, the government cannot be sued without its consent or unless certain exceptions to sovereign immunity apply.

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In contrast, non-governmental entities or individuals can generally be sued more easily.

The Financial Implications 

One of the most substantial costs when suing the government is hiring legal representation. Experienced attorneys who specialize in this form of litigation may charge higher fees due to the complexity and time-consuming nature of government cases. 

To make it even trickier, lawyers often charge on an hourly basis or may require a retainer fee upfront. At the same time, some lawyers offer contingency fee options. This means that you only pay your lawyer if you win the case. Often, contingency fees will be a percentage of the settlement amount. 

Lawsuits, by their own nature, are long affairs. When you add in the fact that suing the government can be an even lengthier process, you should give the decision some serious thought. 

Be prepared to invest a considerable amount of money and resources, including personal time spent preparing for the case, attending hearings, and dealing with legal proceedings. 


No one wants to be in a situation where they need to sue the government. In situations like the Camp Lejeune disaster, where clear proof was evident, compensation still moved at a snail’s pace. Even today, more than half a century later, there are many who have yet to receive proper compensation from the government. 

At the same time, holding the government accountable is of the utmost importance for a healthy society. One simply needs to know what they are getting themselves into if they wish to take legal action. If that aspect is clear, then yes, it is very much possible to sue the public institutions that fail the people.

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