Military Wrongful Death

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Military Wrongful Death

Can my family sue for the wrongful death of an active-duty service member?

The correct answer is: "It depends". Filing a wrongful death lawsuit on the behalf of an active-duty service member requires a thorough understanding of military law and an in-depth investigation of all the circumstances surrounding the untimely death of your loved one. That's why Spohrer & Dodd utilizes a team approach to investigating, preparing and presenting a military wrongful death claim. For example, the United States government has been well protected for decades by the "Feres Doctrine" which basically forbids active-duty military members from seeking compensation from the government. However, if the accidental injuries that led to the demise were caused by a faulty product that was sold to the government, there may be a valid case against the manufacturer, distributor or seller.

Which Laws Apply to My Wrongful Death Claim?

Again, that depends upon the specifics of your claim. If your loved one's injuries occurred outside U.S. boundaries, the case will likely be filed under the statutes of the Military Claims Act (MCA). Under the MCA regulations, your suit is administratively adjudicated by the offending agency (Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force). However, if your loved one's injuries occurred inside U.S. borders, the wrongful death suit would be filed under the statutes of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Under the FTCA regulations, the laws of the state in which the negligence occurred will usually be applied no matter where the suit is filed. This is an important variable as state laws differ in regards to who can file suit in a wrongful death claim.

Whether your case is governed by the FTCA or MCA, it is crucial to select a law firm with the experience and resources to present a compelling military wrongful death lawsuit.