Can You Sue the Military for Medical Malpractice?

Military healthcare workers save thousands of lives every year. Soldiers rely on medics in veterans and military facilities to uphold the highest standards of patient care. Unfortunately, military physicians make mistakes just like civilian ones do. Medical negligence at military hospitals can severely injure and even kill active and non-active military members. If you or someone you love suffered from medical malpractice in a military setting, immediately contact a medical malpractice attorney in West Virginia. Cases against the military can be incredibly complex and involve laws that civilian suits do not.

Suing the Government for Medical Malpractice

You can sue the government for medical malpractice in all 50 United States, as well as U.S. territories and overseas military bases. It is possible to sue a government entity like the military on the grounds of negligence only if you are a certain party. Veterans of the military, military dependents, and any retired military personnel can pursue these claims. An active duty military member can file a medical malpractice claim for harm done to his or her spouse or child, but an active duty serviceman or woman cannot file a lawsuit against the military for harm done to the service member. This is due to the Feres Doctrine.

The Feres Doctrine, established after the 1950 Supreme Court case Feres v. United States, holds that the United States is not liable for injuries armed forces members sustain while on active duty – even if those duties stem from someone’s negligence. The Feres Doctrine also prohibits active duty personnel from filing wrongful death claims against the U.S., even if negligence allegedly contributed to the member’s death. This controversial law remains in place and bars active servicemen and women from filing medical malpractice lawsuits against military hospitals and doctors.

If you are in a position to sue a military hospital, you have two years from the date of injury or the discovery of injury to file a claim. You may lose your right to sue after this statute of limitations has passed. For claims against the U.S. government, this statute of limitations holds true across the board – in cases involving military members, children, disabled people, and death. There are some exceptions to the two-year rule. It is important to retain a personal injury lawyer in West Virginia as soon as possible after a medical malpractice injury to avoid missing the deadline.

Laws Pertaining to Military Medical Malpractice Claims

Other than the Feres Doctrine, there are two main laws involved in military medical malpractice claims: the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and the Military Claims Act (MCA). The FTCA allows parties to file claims against the U.S. government if the injuries stemmed from a federal employee’s negligent act within the scope of official duties. The MCA covers damages that occur as a result of military personnel who were on the job at the time of the accident. The MCA covers claims the FTCA does not, such as damages that occur around the world.

An individual must first file an administrative claim against the government before filing with the FTCA or the MCA. The government then has six months to investigate the claim and come to a decision. If the entity denies the claim, the claimant can file a lawsuit with the federal courts. The same is true if the entity ignores the claim. If the government decides to offer a settlement, the claimant has the opportunity to accept the offer and avoid a trial.

The law prohibits retaliation against individuals who file claims against the military. Do not fear harm to your military career if you file a medical malpractice claim for one of your dependents. If you believe you have grounds for such a claim, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.