If you or a loved one has been injured due to a mistake at a VA hospital or medical facility, you may be under the impression that you can't sue the federal government for what you have endured. But that simply isn't the case. very frustrated. It is true, though, that specific steps must be taken to bring a medical malpractice claim against the Veterans Administration.
The body of law for these matters is the Federal Torts Claim Act (FTCA), which outlines procedures for bringing a claim and, if necessary, suing the federal government. Not every attorney handles FTCA cases, so it is important to have an FTCA lawyer on your side if you have suffered injuries due to VA medical negligence.
What is the FTCA?
Because the VA is an arm of the federal government, you cannot sue the VA directly. There is a procedure in place to initiate a lawsuit outlined by the FTCA. In terms of process, this is very different from a civilian personal injury or medical malpractice claim.
The procedure starts with Standard Form 95, which has to be filled out very carefully for the best results. Completing the form correctly can be complicated by a number of issues, including:
- If the malpractice that led to your injury was in a VA facility overseas
- If the doctor was a VA employee or an independent contractor
- There are questions about where the claim should be filed
Throughout the process, it is recommended that you have guidance from an attorney who is familiar with these matters and how they can potentially affect a claim under the FTCA. Also, you have two years from the date that you discovered your injury to start the process, so it is important that you do not delay.
VA medical negligence resulting in added disability
If medical negligence at a VA hospital resulted in added disability, you may need to file a claim under Title 38 U.S.C. 1151. This is the internal VA process for handling claims of negligence and malpractice that resulted in a disability. Even with this filing, you can still file a separate claim under the FTCA.
An FTCA claim is supposed to be reviewed within six months. If the claim is denied, you have a right to sue the federal government. In many cases, the government will offer a settlement prior to the case going to court.
Again, to receive the maximum available compensation, it is important to get help from an attorney with extensive experience in these kinds of cases.