Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Against the Military
Until very recently, service members who suffered injuries while on active duty were prohibited from bringing medical malpractice lawsuits against the federal government.
A new provision in the 2020 annual defense budget, however, now allows service members and their loved ones to bring military medical malpractice claims against the federal government.
Were you or a loved one harmed by medical negligence while on active duty with the military? It’s time to get serious. Robert Sparks Attorneys is available to discuss your rights and legal options during a FREE consultation. Call (813) 606-5050.
Military Members Can Now File Medical Malpractice Claims with DoD
Prior to the recent change, a landmark 1950 Supreme Court ruling barred military service members and families from filing civil lawsuits against the federal government for any injuries they suffered while on active duty – including injuries arising from medical malpractice.
The ruling – known as the Feres Doctrine – came shortly after the Federal Tort Claims Act was passed in 1946, and clarified that while the FTCA allowed citizens to file civil claims against the U.S. government, the Act contained exceptions that provided immunity to the federal government for injuries “incident to service.” That included injuries arising from negligence, such as the preventable barracks fire at issue in the Feres case, as well as combat-related injuries, assaults, and medical negligence.
Despite years of failed attempts to overturn the ruling or pass meaningful legislation, Congress passed the Sgt. 1st Class (SFTR) Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019 (H.R. 2422) as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (the 2020 annual defense budget).
Under the new law, service members and their families can now file medical malpractice claims with the Department of Defense. This includes claims arising from a range of medical errors, including:
- Misdiagnosis / Failure to Diagnose
- Birth Injuries
- Delayed Treatment
- Medication Errors
- Surgical Errors
- Emergency Room Errors
Helping Service Members & Families Fight for Justice
Now that the SFR Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act is now law, there are likely to be a number of questions, challenges, and growing pains – many of which stem from the need for new rules on adjudicating military medical malpractice claims. Still, there are some essential facts worth knowing:
- Eligibility: Claims are permitted only in instances where active-duty service members suffer personal injury or wrongful death due to a DoD health care provider’s substandard medical care.
- Statute of Limitations: Victims or surviving family members must file their military medical malpractice claims within 2 years of the date of the injury-causing medical procedure, or within 3 years if claims are filed in 2020.
Although service members and families may now have the opportunity to seek accountability and financial compensation following a government health care provider’s medical negligence, they still face hurdles inherent to medical malpractice claims – which are notorious for being highly complex and fact-specific, and fought against aggressively by defendants and insurers.
While every case is different, medical malpractice victims – including service members, veterans, and families with military-related malpractice claims against the federal government – will still need to prove the essential elements of malpractice cases, including:
- The existence of a patient-physician relationship;
- A medical provider was negligent / failed to meet the applicable standard of care when treating a patient (breach of duty);
- The medical provider’s substandard care caused the patient harm (causation); and
- The patient suffered actual damages.
When successful, military malpractice claims can provide victims and their loved ones with compensation to ease the burdens created by an array of physical, financial, and emotional damages. This may include past and future medical expenses, lost income, and lost future earnings, as well as damages related to pain and suffering, emotional losses, and other intangible damages.
Have Questions? Call (813) 336-3348 For a FREE Consultation.
At Robert Sparks Attorneys, our Tampa attorneys leverage decades of experience to educate medical malpractice victims about their rights and options for seeking compensation, and help them pursue a full and fair recovery of their damages amid complicated legal proceedings. Our team proudly serves service members and families from all branches of the armed forces – including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.
To speak with a lawyer about your potential military medical malpractice claim in Tampa or the surrounding areas of Florida, get serious and call (813) 606-5050 or contact us online for a free and confidential case review.