Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital Medical Malpractice Claims
Veterans have made incredible sacrifices to serve our country. Thorough and compassionate healthcare from the federal government and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for these heroes should be a given. Unfortunately, the reality is often far less than ideal. VA hospital medical malpractice happens more than you think.
Medical malpractice in VA hospitals and other military medical facilities is frighteningly common. Many veterans face significant legal and financial hurdles as they seek recovery.
At Bertram Law Group, PLLC, our dedicated lawyers are committed to fighting for the rights of the men and women who have protected our country. We understand how devastating malpractice cases can be for individuals. It is our mission to help you hold accountable the healthcare providers who were responsible for your injuries.
To learn more, call our Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorneys today or contact us online for a free and confidential initial consultation of your case.
Can Veterans Sue VA Hospitals for Medical Malpractice?
Because the VA is a federal agency, a person suing a VA hospital is essentially suing the federal government. Most of the time, it is not possible for individuals to sue the U.S. government, but there are exceptions for cases of medical malpractice that occur at VA hospitals.
Generally speaking, veterans who are injured due to VA hospital malpractice go through one or more administrative claims processes to pursue compensation before considering a full-blown lawsuit.
Claims filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allow veterans and other civilians harmed by government negligence to seek compensation for their losses. The first step in an FTCA claim involves filing a Standard Form 95 with the VA Regional Council associated with the VA hospital in which your injury took place.
The Standard Form 95 should include detailed information about your injuries, treatment expenses, claims of negligence, and the total sum of damages you seek. Federal courts are unable to offer any damages beyond those requested in your claim, so it’s especially important to account for all of your losses before you file.
While FTCA claims cover a broad range of government negligence, Section 1151 claims are specifically designed to address claims of injury caused by VA hospitals, clinics, examinations, or surgical procedures. It is usually much easier to file a Section 1151 claim than an FTCA claim, with less paperwork and supporting evidence required.
Whether you file an FTCA claim, a Section 1151 claim, or both, it is often difficult to obtain a reasonable settlement from the federal government. In many cases, unreasonable settlement offers, claim denials, or outright lack of acknowledgment from the VA force veterans to pursue their claims in federal court. Suing the government is no easy task under the best of circumstances. The assistance of an experienced VA medical malpractice lawyer will likely prove very valuable in your case.
How Long Does a VA Medical Malpractice Claim Last?
Like most legal claims in the United States, FTCA and Section 1151 claims are subject to a statute of limitations, which is like an official time limit for injured parties to pursue legal action. Each of these claim types is subject to a strict two-year statute of limitations. If you file your claim more than two years after you were injured or became aware of your injury (or reasonably should have become aware of your injury), you will likely lose your right to sue for damages.
After you file an FTCA or Section 1151 claim, the VA has six months to respond to your request with either a settlement offer or a denial. If the VA does not respond within six months, it is considered a “constructive denial.”
After you receive a notice of denial, a constructive denial, or another unfavorable outcome, you have an additional six months to file a lawsuit appealing the VA’s decision.
In some cases, the statute of limitations may be extended if you continue to be treated by the VA or another military facility. Regardless, many VA hospital malpractice claims stretch on for several years and determining or observing the relevant statute of limitations can be tricky. A competent medical malpractice attorney familiar with the VA and FTCA can address these challenges and help you win the compensation you deserve.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File an Administrative Claim?
Technically, anyone can file an administrative Section 1151 or FTCA claim on their own, but this doesn’t mean that going it alone is your best option. When you seek compensation from a VA hospital for medical malpractice, you must provide strong evidence that the VA’s treatment did not align with appropriate medical standards and that you were injured as a result.
This can be an extremely tall order and may require proof from things like federal records requests and medical expert testimony. It’s difficult for many veterans and civilians to gain access to such evidence without the assistance of a dedicated lawyer.
In addition, navigating a VA medical malpractice claim can be extremely complicated. There are a number of stipulations associated with the FTCA rule that could make it difficult to prevail in your case. For example, if the medical professional who injured you was a contractor instead of an employee, the FTCA may not apply. You would need to prove that the contractor was under the direct supervision of the VA hospital.
A medical malpractice attorney familiar with the military and the VA can help you observe complex legal requirements, gather compelling proof, build a solid case, and seek maximum, rightful compensation for your losses.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice at VA Hospitals
Some of the most common forms of VA hospital malpractice include:
- Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses
- Information and treatment delays
- Procedures performed on incorrect patients
- Procedures performed on incorrect body parts
- Dangerous exposure to pathogens
- Insufficient sterilization procedures
- Medication errors and overdose deaths
- Failure to monitor at-risk patients
- Surgical errors or negligence
Get Legal Help from Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers
No matter how complex your VA hospital medical malpractice case, it’s important to avoid mistakes that could delay or damage your claim. The assistance of the seasoned VA malpractice lawyers at Bertram Law Group, PLLC in Washington, D.C. can help you present the best case possible and maximize your chances of a full and fair recovery.
It’s in your best interest to act quickly, so call us now or contact us online to schedule your free, confidential, no-obligation case review.