When you go to your medical doctor, you do so with the belief that they have the knowledge, expertise, and experience to help relieve you of your aches and pains and ailments. When you consult them, you trust them fully, especially if you are a person in uniform. You believe that you will be given good care for your service in the military. However, this is not always the case. There have been instances in which doctors have failed to do their duty, even those serving in the military. If you have had this experience, here are some things you should know about military medical malpractice:
Can You Sue for Military Medical Malpractice?
There was a time when persons in uniform were discouraged from filing claims from the government for medical malpractice. However, a bill has changed this now. Members of the military who can prove that they received negligent care can receive compensation for negligence under the US$738 billion National Defense Authorization Act.
Similarly, family members and dependents can also sue a medical doctor for negligent care. Retired officers and veterans harmed under the hands of the medical doctor at a DO, VA, or federal health facility may be able to file a claim.
Why Were Active Duty Service Members Barred from Suing for Military Medical Malpractice?
Active duty service members cannot file medical malpractice lawsuits because of the Feres Doctrine after a 1950 Supreme Court resolution. The decision became controversial but had bearing when it comes to medical care. They cannot sue their medical doctor for any injury that they would suffer while in service or for any non-combat damages such as medical procedures. Similarly, the doctrine also disallows dependents to file a wrongful death claim even if they can prove that negligence contributed to the death.
How Can Uniformed People Sue for Military Medical Malpractice?
If you want to file for a military medical malpractice claim, you have to prepare yourself to undergo an arduous process. Military malpractice attorneys can help you under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which handles such complaints. Under this act, the federal government is liable for causing injuries as an employer. But the process requires patience. The government does not make it easy for you to sue and claim damages. They have strict deadlines and you must comply accordingly. For this reason, working with an experienced lawyer is your best bet to make sure you get the justice that you deserve.
You must ensure that you have filed an administrative claim that contains a description of the injury-causing act and the amount that you want for your compensation. After submitting your application, the government will conduct an investigation. Ideally, they would offer you a settlement within six months. If your claim is denied, you can now file in a federal court.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
Working with a competent and experienced military medical malpractice lawyer is imperative. Why? You have to remember that you are going up against the federal government, and you need someone who is well-versed in handling such cases. They can help you build a strong case that would ensure a fair settlement for your situation. Some of the medical malpractice cases you can file include diagnostic errors, surgical errors, and prescription errors.
Members of the military put their lives on the line to serve their country. However, if this life is placed in danger because of incompetence, negligence, and explicit disregard for their life, they deserve to be compensated well and not deprived of leading a good life while they are in active duty or otherwise. The same should be applied to their dependents and loved ones.