Veterans Affairs Medical Malpractice
Were you injured during treatment at a VA Medical Center?
Non-active duty military, retirees and family members of military personnel often qualify for and receive healthcare services at a VA Hospital or VA Medical Center. As a patient, you have a right to safe, competent medical care and treatment for your medical conditions. When an eligible patient suffers an injury or illness caused by the carelessness or neglect of a government health care provider, they are entitled to seek compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
Active duty military are basically prohibited from suing the United States as regulated by the "Feres Doctrine". However, you should always consult an experienced VA military medical malpractice attorney to look for exceptions such as: the failure of a medical device produced for the government by a third-party manufacturer or the fact that the offending healthcare provider was an independent contractor.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Preliminary Administrative Claim?
Although the FTCA allows for a variety of suits, it also requires you, or your loved one, to file an administrative claim for the full amount of damages against the offending agency as a first step in seeking compensation. Once you've completed a Standard Form 95 (SF-95), the Department of Veterans Affairs has up to six months to review and investigate the claim of medical negligence or malpractice. Your administrative claim may be rejected or settled outright. Should the government decide to settle, the amount you declared when you filed the administrative claim will be used as the maximum amount for recovery. If rejected, you have the right to sue in federal court under the provisions of the FTCA but only for the amount claimed. Determining an inclusive amount for compensation of damages before you file an administrative claim is crucial to receiving a fair settlement.
To protect your opportunity for a recovery, it is always advisable to consult with a military medical malpractice lawyer that is experienced in investigating and filing an administrative claim and pursuing a federal lawsuit under the provision of the Federal Tort Claims Act.
NOTE: After the discovery of your injury, the FTCA allows up to 2 years to file a lawsuit against the government. But, when you consider the "up to six months" for the government agency to respond and no requirement on the Veterans Affairs part to notify you in regards to their decision, satisfying the established timelines can be very tricky and missed deadlines are not tolerated. Contact the attorneys at Spohrer & Dodd today for help with your case.