The men and women of the military dedicate their lives to our country. And just like everyone else, they want to know that they’re in good hands when they visit a medical care provider. Unfortunately, they are no less likely to be the victim of medical malpractice than anyone else.
If you are, or were, a member of the armed forces and were injured as a result of the negligence of a Department of Defense healthcare provider, you may be wondering if you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Keep reading as we discuss what you need to know about medical malpractice, and how a military malpractice lawyer can help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
Can You Sue a Military Hospital for Malpractice?
If you were a victim of malpractice at a military hospital, you’ve probably wondered, “Can you sue the Army for malpractice?” And what about all the other military branches?
Historically speaking, active-duty military members were not eligible to file medical malpractice claims against military doctors or hospitals. Known as the Feres doctrine, this law originated from a 1950 Supreme Court ruling that active-duty military personnel were unable to hold the government liable for injuries they sustained during service. It continued for nearly 70 years until December 2019, when the SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act was signed into law.
This bill modified the applicable law, allowing active-duty military members to file administrative claims (but not traditional civil lawsuits) after suffering an injury due to the negligence of military medical providers. Today, while you cannot file a lawsuit, you can seek compensation from the federal government for medical malpractice. However, there are a couple of key limitations to keep in mind, including:
- Military members have to file a military administrative claim within two years from the time of the injury. This statute of limitations makes it crucial to file your claim as soon as you can, or it could be rejected.
- Active-duty members are not eligible to sue in federal court like dependents and retired military members can. Instead, their claims are handled administratively, as we’ll cover below.
What Is the Process for Seeking Compensation from the Military for Medical Malpractice Today?
For active duty military members, filing a military malpractice claim is a bit different than traditional medical malpractice claims. First, the law does not allow you to sue in court, but it does permit you to file an administrative claim for compensation with the Department of Defense. Once your administrative claim has been filed, the Department of Defense will investigate the claim, and it may or may not award compensation using federal guidelines. If the government rejects your claim or awards inadequate compensation, there is a process for an administrative appeal. However, unlike military dependents or veterans, active duty military members are not allowed to file suit in court, even after exhausting the administrative process.
It is in your best interest to partner with an experienced military malpractice lawyer. Because medical malpractice law is highly regulated, you’ll need a lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases and who can help recover the full extent of compensation you deserve by proving the following:
- Duty. This is the easiest step to prove, which is that your doctor had responsibility to provide you as a patient with safe and competent medical care, and refrain from causing harm.
- Breach of duty. A successful claim requires proof that another reasonably competent doctor, under the same circumstances, would not have made the same error.
- Damages. At this point, you and your lawyer will need to demonstrate evidence of the harm you suffered, including physical pain, emotional trauma, additional medical bills, and lost work and/or wages.
- Causation. To be successful in your Army, Navy, or Air Force malpractice lawsuit, the final step will require you to prove that the harm you suffered was a direct consequence of your doctor’s negligence.
JJS Military Malpractice Lawyers: A Supportive Legal Team in Your Corner
If you or a loved one were a victim of military medical malpractice, you’ve got a tough case that needs the help of an experienced law firm. At Janet, Janet & Suggs, we’ve won millions in settlements for our clients who suffered injury or illness from military medical malpractice. We have dedicated our lives to fighting for these victims, and we’re here to tirelessly pursue the justice you and your family deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will help you decide the next best steps in your case so that you can focus on your healing.