New York VA Malpractice Attorney
As a military service member, dependent, or veteran, you deserve quality medical care from the U.S. government after you have demonstrated your sacrifice and dedication to the country firsthand. Unfortunately, many people sustain painful and disabling injuries every year due to medical malpractice in Veteran’s Administration (VA) facilities.
If you or your dependent was injured in a VA hospital or medical facility, you might be entitled to money for your injuries and other related losses by filing a military medical malpractice claim. At Finz & Finz, P.C., our trusted VA military medical malpractice lawyers have decades of experience supporting military personnel and families as they pursue fair compensation.
Our sophisticated team of New York military medical malpractice lawyers has the resources and knowledge needed to navigate even the most complex VA medical malpractice cases. Contact us today to discuss your situation and legal options in a free, no-risk consultation.
Who Can File a Military Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you have been injured by Veterans Administration malpractice, you may be wondering, “Can VA doctors be sued for medical malpractice?” The short answer is yes. Although non-active duty servicemembers have been able to file medical malpractice claims against the VA for many years, until very recently, the answer to “Can active military duty sue for medical malpractice?” was “no.”
A law known as The Feres Doctrine prohibited active-duty military service members from filing military medical malpractice claims until very recently. For decades, military personnel could only file claims against the federal government for medical malpractice under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA historically excluded active-duty personnel and made the claims process both challenging and time-consuming.
In late 2019, Congress passed the Military Medical Accountability Act (MMAA), allowing active military personnel to hold military medical providers accountable for malpractice. This includes VA doctors, hospitals, and facilities. When you file this type of claim, you are not technically suing. Instead, you are making an administrative claim.
The following individuals are eligible to file medical malpractice claims against the VA under the new law and existing legislation:
- Active-duty and reserve personnel serving in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, National Guard, and Navy
- Military dependents, including spouses and children, who sustain injuries as a result of negligence on behalf of a military medical provider or facility
- Active-duty personnel with dependents who suffered injuries or wrongful death due to military medical malpractice
- Military veterans and retired military service members who sustain injuries at VA hospitals or government healthcare facilities after they have left the military
How to File a Veterans Administration Malpractice Claim
If you wish to file a military medical malpractice claim, you generally have two years from the date when you initially sustained injuries due to medical negligence. If you do not realize you were injured right away, the deadline may be extended to two years from the date when you discovered or should have discovered the malpractice. If you’re uncertain about the timeline for your case, it’s best to contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney for guidance.
To begin your claim, you will need to fill out a Standard Form 95. The document will cover the essential facts of your case, including information about your injuries, the negligent parties, and the value of your claim. It is critically important that you contact an experienced VA medical malpractice attorney before filing a Standard Form 95.
When you calculate the value of your claim, it’s essential to be as thorough as possible. The court will not offer you any compensation beyond what you ask for, so you’ll want to consider all of the personal and financial losses you have incurred due to your injuries, as well as the losses you will likely incur in the future. You must also submit evidence to support the amounts and types of compensation you demand.
If you were injured due to medical negligence on behalf of a VA doctor or hospital, you might also be entitled to benefits from a Section 1151 disability claim. These claims are specifically for VA injuries, and they typically require less paperwork and evidence.
Depending on the nature of your claim and how you choose to file, you may need to provide the following types of evidence:
- Medical records and hospital bills
- Opinions from independent medical experts regarding alleged malpractice
- Statements from employers regarding missed time at work
- Statements from treating physicians
- Supporting evidence for projected future medical costs and lost wages
Can I Sue the VA for Malpractice?
After filing a Standard Form 95 or Section 1151 claim, the VA has six months to review your case. Afterward, the VA may choose to pay you the full amount you claimed (which is highly unlikely), make you a smaller settlement offer, or reject your claim outright. If the VA neglects to respond to your claim within the prescribed six-month period, it is considered a “constructive denial” and is effectively the same as a rejection.
If the VA tries to get you to settle for less than you deserve, an attorney can help you fight back by negotiating for full and fair compensation based on the circumstances of your case. Some military medical malpractice claims are settled out of court, but in many cases, you must file a lawsuit to obtain the money you need.
To file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the VA, you must have already submitted a claim under the FTCA or Section 1151. After you receive a written rejection or constructive denial from the VA, you will have the option to file a lawsuit in federal court.
When you file a lawsuit against the VA for medical malpractice, you will not be able to present your case in front of a jury. Under the FTCA, a judge will preside over your case and have the sole ability to determine whether the federal government is liable for your injuries.
Once the lawsuit is underway, you and your attorney will be required to attend a mandatory settlement conference. Many military medical malpractice claims are resolved at this stage. However, if you are still unable to reach a full and fair settlement, your VA medical malpractice lawyer can pursue a favorable outcome through other means. This may involve presenting evidence and interviewing witnesses or experts in court, along with a trial before a federal judge.
Types of Military Medical Malpractice Cases
Many Veteran’s Administration malpractice cases involve patients injured by the following types of medical negligence:
- Misdiagnosis – A misdiagnosis occurs when doctors diagnose patients with the wrong medical condition.
- Failure to diagnose – Failure to diagnose occurs when doctors fail to recognize symptoms of a condition.
- Delayed diagnosis – A delayed diagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to promptly diagnose a patient’s condition. As a result, the patient’s treatment is delayed and may not be as effective.
- Childbirth mistakes – Common childbirth mistakes include vacuum extractor errors, forceps errors, and failure to order a timely C-section.
- Negligent prenatal care – This can include failure to adequately monitor fetal heart rate and failure to order appropriate tests for mother or baby.
- Medication errors – Medication errors can involve prescribing incorrect medications or administering medicine to the wrong patient.
- Anesthesia errors – Anesthesia errors can occur when anesthesiologists provide too much, too little, or the wrong type of general or local anesthetic.
- Surgical errors – Common surgical errors include performing incorrect or unnecessary procedures, using non-sterile equipment, and leaving surgical instruments or sponges inside patients.
- Post-surgical errors – Post-surgical malpractice can occur when providers fail to sterilize wounds or properly care for patients after surgery
- Infections – Infections are prevalent malpractice injuries. They can be caused by non-sterile implements, poor handwashing habits, or general lack of cleanliness in VA facilities.
Compensation Available for Victims of Veterans Administration Medical Malpractice
As a victim of military medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation for the following types of losses:
- Future economic losses – The projected dollar value of losses you are likely to suffer in the future due to your malpractice-related injuries. This includes projected costs of medical care you will likely need in the future and the projected reduction in your lifetime earning capacity.
- Lost wages – The value of any wages you lost due to time missed from work while you were recovering from your malpractice injuries.
- Medical expenses – The costs of any medical care or supplies you require for your malpractice-related injuries. This includes costs of hospital stays, doctor’s visits, medical equipment, diagnostic tests, and prescription medications.
- Pain and suffering – The subjective cost of personal losses such as physical pain, mental anguish, emotional suffering, and diminished quality of life you endure due to malpractice injuries.
- Wrongful death benefits – If your loved one died due to military medical malpractice, you and other surviving family members might be entitled to seek wrongful death benefits. These benefits can provide compensation for medical bills you incur on behalf of your loved one, losses of their earning capacity, funeral and burial costs, and more.
Contact a Highly Experienced Veterans Affairs Medical Malpractice Lawyer in New York
At the nationally recognized personal injury firm of Finz & Finz, P.C., we can help you hold negligent VA doctors and facilities accountable for malpractice under the FTCA and MMAA. If you were injured in a VA hospital due to suspected malpractice, contact us right away to speak with a Veteran’s Affairs medical malpractice lawyer and learn more about your legal options in a free case strategy review.