Medical malpractice is a complicated area of law, but if you are a service member, veteran, or dependent who has experienced harm or injury due to military or VA medical malpractice, it is a particularly daunting topic. Unlike civilian medical malpractice cases, medical malpractice cases involving military and VA hospitals can be more complex due to the unique legal framework that governs them.
Liability in Military and VA Medical Malpractice Cases
In the event of medical malpractice, liability is largely dependent on the type of institution at which they received care from:
- Civilian Medical Facility: In the event that an individual suffers from medical malpractice, they would be able to sue individual medical providers and, in some cases, the medical facility itself.
- Military or Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Facility: In the event that an individual suffers from medical malpractice, they cannot sue individual medical providers. Under U.S. tort law, federal employees are not personally liable for most torts they commit during their work. Instead, you can only hold those employees responsible using a specific law called the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
What Is the FTCA?
The FTCA is a federal law that authorizes private citizens to sue the federal government for damages caused by the wrongful conduct of federal employees acting within the scope of their employment. This means that if a military medical practitioner causes harm or injury to a patient during their employment, the FTCA may provide a way for the patient to seek compensation for the damages they suffered.
When filing a medical malpractice claim through the FTCA, you must first file an administrative claim with the relevant military branch that provides the opportunity for the government to review and potentially resolve the claim before a lawsuit is filed.
Burden of Proof
For the claim to be successful, the plaintiff must establish that the medical practitioner's conduct was negligent and caused the injury or harm. Just like in civilian medical malpractice cases, this generally requires expert testimony from a medical expert who can provide testimony about the appropriate standard of care and demonstrate how the medical practitioner failed to meet it.
Unique Qualities of FTCA Cases
Procedural and Evidentiary Rules
Furthermore, military medical malpractice cases often involve unique procedural and evidentiary rules that can impact the case's outcome. Because these cases involve members of the military, there may be complex jurisdictional issues that arise if the service member was deployed at the time the injury occurred.
In addition to the complex procedural and evidentiary issues that arise in military medical malpractice cases, there are also unique damages issues that may arise. Service members and their families may be entitled to special types of damages, like loss of consortium, that are not available in traditional medical malpractice cases.
Nationwide Federal Tort Claims Act Attorneys
Medical malpractice is always complex, but military medical malpractice cases can be especially challenging. Whether you are a service member or veteran seeking damages for an injury caused by a military or VA medical practitioner or a dependent of a service member who has been injured, it's essential to work with a knowledgeable FTCA attorney who understands the complexities of these cases and can help navigate the unique legal framework.
Setting Case Records Across the U.S.
At National Trial Law, our team has a strong track record of handling FTCA cases and securing wins for our clients; we have set records on judgments and settlements across the country, including the highest FTCA judgment ever.