Suing a Military Doctor for Medical Negligence
Updated: May 8, 2020
Military families and veterans put their health and even their lives in the hands of military doctors. When this trust is betrayed by a doctor’s negligence or incompetence, it can have devastating consequences. The process for suing a military doctor is different than private medical professionals, but it can provide you with the financial recovery you need and deserve after a healthcare injury.
National Federal Torts Claim Act (FTCA) and medical military injuries
The national Federal Torts Claim Act (FTCA) was enacted to provide a remedy for individuals who were injured by federal employees. FTCA protection extends to injuries to military family members and veterans caused by military doctors. This applies to the army, air force, navy, and VA. However, certain requirements must be met, including:
Individual is injured by a military, VA, or other federally-employed doctor or medical professional
Doctor was acting within the scope of official duties
Doctor acted negligently or wrongfully
Injuries were proximately caused by this act (or failure to act)
It is important to adhere to the strict rules for pursuing an FTCA claim or the claim may be barred. If your claim is properly filed but is denied, there is less than a full recovery, or the claim is not resolved within the six-month period, then the next step is to sue in federal court.
Who Can Sue A Military Doctor?
Military and VA hospitals are branches of the federal government. Because of this, when you file a medical negligence claim against a military doctor, you are bringing a lawsuit against the federal government.
In most cases, the concept of “sovereign immunity” protects the federal government from being sued by private citizens. However, The Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) provides an exception to this rule, which allows certain individuals to file certain kinds of lawsuits against the federal government or its employees.
Under the FTCA, veterans of the military, retired military personnel, and the dependents of active duty service men and women, such as their spouses and children, are eligible to file a claim against a military doctor for injuries suffered as a result of medical negligence during treatment received at a military or VA hospital, or other federal health care facility.
Furthermore, while in most cases, an active duty serviceman or servicewoman will be barred by the Feres Doctrine from bringing a medical negligence claim against a military doctor, they may be able to recover compensation for emotional distress and loss of companionship if a family member falls victim to medical negligence at a medical facility operated by the government. However, each case is different.
How Suing a Military Doctor Works
The statute of limitations for suing a military doctor under the FTCA is 2 years from the date you become aware of the injury and its cause. Suing a military doctor under the FTCA entails first filing an administrative claim against the federal health care facility where the injury took place for the full amount of the damages you have suffered.
The medical facility then has six months to evaluate the claim and determine what action to take. In some cases, the facility will pay the entire amount requested. In other cases, it will attempt to settle the claim for less than the amount requested or reject the claim entirely.
If the facility does not respond within 6 months, the claim will be considered rejected and you will be allowed 6 months to file a lawsuit in federal court, where a judge will decide if and to what extent the federal government is liable for your injuries.
Veterans and military families are eligible to seek FTCA injury compensation
Military families are entitled to competent medical care at military medical centers, hospitals, and clinics. When dependents of military personnel, such as spouses or children, are injured because of medical negligence, they are eligible to file FTCA claims to recover compensation for their harm.
Likewise, veterans are entitled to proper care at Veterans Affairs facilities. Unfortunately, VA hospitals are frequently in the news for their notorious low standard of care, including surgical incompetence, vastly exceeding reasonable wait times, and even death rates. When a veteran is injured because of the negligent or wrongful acts of a VA doctor, surgeon, nurse, or other provider, he or she may also file a claim for compensation under the FTCA.
Common medical malpractice claims
A wide range of injuries may be inflicted by a negligent military doctor. Some common types of medical negligence include the following:
Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose
Negligent prenatal care
Medication and prescription errors
Surgical negligence and unnecessary surgeries
Post-surgical errors and infections
Injured veterans and military families deserve compensation
Veterans and military families fight for our security and freedom. They deserve the highest quality medical care and treatment. At the Bertling Law Group, we work tirelessly to obtain just compensation for medical injuries caused by negligence in California and nationwide. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or by calling 844-295-7558 today.