VA Malpractice Claims
The Veterans Health Administration is the largest integrated health care system in America, serving nine million enrolled veterans across the country at 1,293 health care facilities, including 171 medical centers and 1,112 outpatient sites offering different levels of patient care. That’s a lot of facilities treating a lot of patients, and a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong. While doctors, nurses and other medical providers are most often qualified, dedicated professionals, mistakes do get made, often because of poor management at the facility such as understaffing, overworking, or lack of best practices when it comes to hospital policies and patient protocols.
Year after year, the VA pays out $60 million, $80 million, or $100 million to settle malpractice claims and lawsuits. This shows that whatever the VA is doing wrong, things are not getting better. At Bertling Law Group, we want to change that. When we take on a VA medical malpractice case, our goals are three-fold:
- Find Answers to Your Questions About Went Wrong
- Obtain Maximum Compensation for Your Injuries
- Prevent Future Harm From Happening to Others
The lead trial attorney at Bertling Law Group, Peter Bertling, spent more than 30 years being retained by doctors and their insurance companies to defend them when they got sued for malpractice. Now we focus on representing injured plaintiffs, and the knowledge and experience we gained working for the other side help us to identify malpractice when it occurred, get the evidence to prove it, and hold the responsible parties accountable to the people they have harmed.
Our firm is especially active in pursuing claims against VA hospitals and clinics, holding them responsible for their negligence, helping malpractice victims get the care and compensation they need and deserve, and hopefully helping initiate institutional change to improve the system for everyone. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice at a VA hospital or clinic, or if you lost a loved one due to medical negligence at a VA facility, call Bertling Law Group for a free consultation to discuss your claim.
You Can Sue the Government for VA Medical Malpractice
The doctrine of sovereign immunity says that you can’t sue the government without its consent. Well, the government has consented and allows itself to be sued for harm caused by the negligent acts of its employees. The law allowing these lawsuits is the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and VA malpractice claims are commonly referred to as FTCA claims.
To file a valid claim under the FTCA for VA malpractice, you must be able to prove the following:
- A VA employee injured you
- The VA employee acted within the scope of her or his official duties
- The VA employee acted negligently or wrongfully
- The VA employee’s negligent or wrongful act caused your injury
You can file an FTCA claim against any employee of the VA, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, psychologists or any other health care providers employed by the VA who were engaged in job duties when they injured you. If successful, you can recover compensation for all of the economic losses caused by the malpractice, such as additional medical expenses or lost income if you missed work or lost your job because of the malpractice. You can also recover compensation for noneconomic losses such as the pain and suffering you are forced to endure because of the VA’s negligence.
How do VA Malpractice Claims Work?
Unlike civilian malpractice claims, which start with a lawsuit in state court if the parties can’t settle out of court, the first step in a VA malpractice claim is to file an administrative FTCA claim with the VA. This is done by filing Standard Form 95 with the VA Regional Counsel. The agency will review your claim and either offer to settle it or reject it, or they may do nothing. You have two years from the date of injury to file this claim.
If your claim is denied, or is not satisfactorily settled within six months of filing the claim, you can file a lawsuit in federal court and sue the United States government for the negligence of the VA healthcare providers. However, if you are successful in court, the judge will be limited in awarding compensation based on what you originally asked for at the administrative level. It is therefore essential not to ignore the FTCA claim; instead, you should give it your full attention, presenting the best and most detailed evidence regarding the VA malpractice and the damages you suffered. A skilled VA malpractice attorney can help you put your best foot forward in your FTCA claim as well as in court if necessary.
Will a Malpractice Claim Affect My Disability Compensation Claim?
If you suffered a qualifying medical condition due to negligence or incompetence at a VA hospital or outpatient clinic, you might qualify for VA disability compensation for the condition. This is known as a Section 1151 claim. You can apply for these benefits even if you are filing an FTCA case. In fact, you might be able to get 1151 benefits faster and before your FTCA case is resolved.
In some cases, your 1151 benefits will be offset through any monies you receive on a successful FTCA claim. However, if your attorney is skilled and knowledgeable in VA malpractice claims, your lawyer can advise you on whether an offset would apply and structure the FTCA settlement in a way to reduce or eliminate the offset. Be sure to find a law firm like Bertling Law Group that understands these vital issues and knows how to maximize your compensation.
Get Knowledgeable and Dedicated Legal Help With Your VA Malpractice Claim
If you suffered an injury at a VA hospital or outpatient facility, Bertling Law Group can help you find out what went wrong and whether the VA is liable to you for medical malpractice. If so, we’ll help you hold them accountable and get you significant compensation to deal with the additional harm they have caused through their negligence. Call Bertling Law Group today at 844-295-7558 for assistance. Your call is free, and we don’t charge any fee if we can’t recover compensation on your behalf.