Serving in the U.S. military is dangerous, even during peacetime. Soldiers and non-combat personnel can suffer injuries and illness simply performing daily duties on bases around the world. The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for diagnosing and treating its active troops. What can servicemembers do if military doctors fail to provide adequate care?
How they can file a medical malpractice claim
Consider the former Marine and Green Beret who filed a medical malpractice claim earlier this year. He alleges Army physicians misdiagnosed as pneumonia a cancerous mass in his lungs. The soldier recently was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
Servicemembers are not allowed to sue the Defense Department in civilian court. But under federal administrative regulations, they can claim negligence against a civilian officer or employee of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard. They may file a claim for damages from the branches for injuries or misdiagnoses he or she suffered at a military base or clinic. But not for the derivative injuries suffered by relatives or dependents.
Congress in 2019 passed the National Defense Authorization Act to codify the medical malpractice process. Pentagon officials are accepting claims but will not review them until the new system is operational. A DOD spokesperson urged servicemembers with claims to consult their military branch for filing requirements.
They deserve answers and compensation
A mistake by medical personnel can have devastating consequences for a patient. Seeking compensation can be especially complicated when that patient is an active servicemember.
Military personnel who have suffered because of medical mistakes deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They are entitled to answers. An attorney experienced in military law, and with a record of helping injured victims receive fair compensation, may help them recover financially and move forward with the rest of their life.