Military Medical Malpractice
A patient injured due to medical malpractice can file a lawsuit to seek compensation and justice. However, active military members who suffered an injury due to an army doctor’s negligence are barred from filing a case against a Department of Defense (DOD) health care provider.
Under sovereign immunity, the federal government is immune to most lawsuits. While the spouses and dependents of service members can file a case against a negligent military doctor, service members on active duty cannot make the same claim.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC is one of Illinois's leading injury law firms and has personal injury attorneys who represent clients in the administrative claims process and trials in federal courts. Call us at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) for a free case evaluation.
Our law firm can help you get started with filing claims. Our medical malpractice lawyers have succeeded in handling personal injury cases of active-duty servicemembers where the negligent party is an agent of the United States government.
What Constitutes Military Medical Malpractice?
Military medical malpractice happens when a health care professional in a military hospital provides an unsatisfactory level of care, causing personal injury or wrongful death. Below are some examples of military doctor’s negligent acts or omission that constitutes military medical malpractice:
- Failure to appropriately diagnose a condition
- Misinterpreting laboratory results
- Performing unnecessary surgery
- Wrongful administration of medication
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Discharge from the hospital prematurely
- Failure to take appropriate patient history
- Failure to recognize symptoms
Who Can File a Lawsuit Against a Military Doctor for Medical Malpractice?
People in active military service who suffered an injury due to the negligence of a military doctor cannot file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. However, the following medical malpractice victims may sue military doctors, military hospitals, and other military medical treatment facilities:
- Spouses and children of active service members
- Military veterans who were injured at a Veteran Affairs (VA) hospital or another federal medical center
- Retired military personnel, wherein the malpractice occurred at a DOD or VA medical center.
What Is the Federal Tort Claims Act?
The government's sovereign immunity precludes active military members from pursuing a lawsuit against negligent medical professionals in government hospitals.
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is an exception to sovereign immunity. Under the FTCA, an active military member can file claims at the Army, Navy, and Air Force hospitals.
How to File a Medical Malpractice Claim Under the FTCA
As presented under the National Defense Authorization Act, active duty service members of the military who incurred injury due to the wrongful or negligent act of health care professionals acting in the scope of their official duties may file a claim with the government for reimbursement.
However, the claimant must support the claim with adequate evidence. Claimants must also demonstrate the following:
- The claimant suffered from an injury as a result of the military doctor’s negligence
- The medical professional was acting within the scope of their official duties when the malpractice occurred
- The physician acted negligently or wrongfully
- The negligent or wrongful act is the proximate cause of the claimant’s injury.
Increasing the chance of acceptance requires the presentation of adequate documentation. Specifically, the claimant must provide evidence to satisfy all the FTCA requirements.
Here’s How to File Claims Under the Different Agencies
Army: A patient involved in army claims should apply to any of the following offices:
- Nearest Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
- Center Judge Advocate of the Medical Center in question
- US Army Claims Service, 4411 Llewellyn Avenue, Fort Meade, Maryland 20755
Air Force: Claimants or their representative may present the application to either of these offices:
- Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at the nearest Air Force Base or
- AFLOA/JACC, 1500 W Perimeter Road, Suite 1700, Joint Base Andrews, MD 20762 POC: Medical Law Branch, AFLOA/JACC 240-612-4620 or DSN 612-4620
Navy: The Navy and Marine Corps claim application should be mailed to this office:
- Office of the Judge Advocate General, Tort Claims Unit, 9620 Maryland Avenue, Suite 205, Norfolk, Virginia 23511-2949.
Who Can File a Claim for Medical Malpractice Committed by a Military Doctor?
The service members or authorized representatives can file a claim within two years of the alleged malpractice. Claimants or their representatives must submit the written documents describing the basis for the claim, including:
- The conduct that resulted in the alleged harm or how alleged malpractice occurred
The amount requested for damages
- Signature of the claimant or their representative
- If filed by a representative, the claim must include an affidavit affirming that the representative is authorized to transact on the member’s behalf.
How to Comply With the Administrative Process in Medical Malpractice Claims
Following all necessary steps to file a claim is critical to receiving compensation for your injuries. Below are the steps on how to initiate an Air Force, Army, or Marine Corps claim:
Gather Relevant Evidence
It is crucial to substantiate your claim with hard facts. Collect all the information and evidence to support your case. Include the following details when filing your claim:
- Names and addresses of physicians and medical institutions who handled your medical case
- Documents confirming the existence of a patient-physician relationship.
- Medical records, such as prescriptions, laboratory results, x-ray results
- Evidence that the patient’s injury was a result of the physician’s negligence
- Billing of medical expenses
- Evidence of financial damages
Standard Form 95
The use of the standard form 95 is not required when filing an administrative claim. However, most people and legal teams prefer this filing method for convenience. When filing the Standard Form 95, ensure that all the provided information is accurate and correct.
In gathering the relevant evidence, you must prove financial damage. The person reviewing your case will consider your form incomplete if you fail to include a specific amount for the damages.
An experienced attorney from a reliable law firm can help you determine the appropriate amount to include in the form. The attorney will also review the document as even a minor mistake can make a difference between your application being accepted or rejected.
Submit to the Appropriate Agency
After filling in the Standard Form 95, you may submit the form to the appropriate government agency. You can expect the agency to take action within six months after receiving your form.
If you have a fully substantiated application, the agency will likely admit your claim and agree to pay the amount you demanded on the Standard Form 95. However, in some instances, the agency will decide to pay only a portion of the amount provided in the form.
There are also instances when they reject the claim altogether. In this case, you will have six months to file a lawsuit.
Military Medical Malpractice Cases
$900,000 Military Medical Malpractice Verdict in Chicago, Illinois
This patient involved was a veteran in his late fifties who experienced adverse effects from heroin and cocaine usage.
He expressed suicidal intentions to the medical staff, who gave him a month's supply of medications nonetheless. He was sent away that day but came back later looking for help, but the hospital turned him down.
The police found him dead on the same premises a few hours later. He died from a drug overdose after ingesting all of the prescription medications they had given him earlier that day.
The hospital was found guilty of wrongful death and medical malpractice defined under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The total payment to the man’s estate amounted to $900,000 to cover the pain and suffering, and losses.
$8,631,790 Military Medical Malpractice Verdict in Illinois
The patient who filed this claim was a thirty-year-old woman who was the wife of a captain in the Air Force. She had been to the doctor’s office several times over several months.
She claimed that the doctor missed an infection that would cause her long-term pain, disable her, and prevent her from working. She sued the doctor for negligence.
According to the doctor, the woman never complained of cellulitis, endometriosis, or similar issues during her visits to the clinic. Also, he countered that he was not in a position to diagnose the patient’s medical conditions as these occurred after the clinical visits.
The woman took her claims to court, and the jury ruled in her favor. She was paid more than $8 million, the highest award for military medical malpractice lawsuits. It compensated her for past and future medical bills, lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering.
Military Medical Malpractice Claims FAQs
Our personal injury law firm understands that many military families have unanswered questions about what to do when someone in the family is a medical malpractice victim. Our lawyers have answered some of those questions below.
Call us at (888) 424-5757 for additional information or schedule a consultation to discuss your case.
Can Someone in Active Federal Duty Status Sue the Military for Medical Malpractice?
Under the Feres Doctrine, active service members cannot file a lawsuit against a military doctor or military medical center.
The Feres Doctrine mandates that active military members are precluded from filing a suit against the government, even in cases where their injuries resulted from the negligent or wrongful act of a military health care provider.
Can Spouses or Family Members Sue the Military for Medical Malpractice?
Under specific circumstances, spouses or family members can sue the military for medical malpractice. However, they may have difficulty doing so, as particular laws and regulations protect the military.
Under federal law, the military is immune from lawsuits for negligence. This immunity means that if a military hospital or doctor makes a mistake involving a veteran or active-duty military personnel, their families cannot sue them for damages.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If the patient can prove that the medical care was so negligent that it amounted to intentional harm, then they may be able to sue.
Additionally, if the government has waived its immunity (which it can do in some instances), then patients may be able to sue the military for medical malpractice.
Do Military Doctors Have Malpractice Insurance?
Military physicians do not have to concern themselves about getting medical malpractice insurance. For valid medical malpractice claims, service members or their estates will receive the following:
- Payment of substantiated claim under $100,000 by the Defense Department
- Malpractice claims over $100,000 will be evaluated and paid by the Treasury Department.
What Is a Possible Alternative to Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against a Military Doctor?
According to the National Defense Authorization Act, an active-duty military may bring an administrative case for a malpractice claim.
In 2019, the Defense Department published the rules allowing active duty service members and their representatives to file claims for personal injury or death due to the negligent act of a military health care provider.
These cases pay claims on medical malpractice cases will be added to the military's compensation system, covering combat injuries, motor vehicle accidents, training mishaps, or deaths or disabilities while in the line of duty.
What Things Can Be Included When Calculating Economic Damages
Such claims will not be placed under judicial review, and the government may consider the following during the claims process:
- Past medical expenses are often based on conditions, diseases, and illnesses documented in the patient’s medical records
- Future medical expenses
- Lost earnings and loss of earning capacity
- Compensation paid for essential household services
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations refers to laws determining the time limit for involved parties to initiate legal proceedings for a civil or criminal case. The parties involved have two years after learning of the existence of the injury to file military malpractice claims.
Contact a Military Medical Malpractice Lawyer For a Free Consultation
Are you an active duty service member, reserve, or retired veteran who experienced medical malpractice while receiving care at a military medical center? Do any of your loved ones suffer from personal injuries after undergoing treatment provided by a military health care provider?
Do you want to file a military medical malpractice claim against the US government? Schedule a free no-obligation consultation through our contact form or call us at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call). Taking on the government can seem daunting, and it is crucial to retain the correct legal representation before presenting your case.
Our military medical malpractice lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC have years of experience working with the tort claims division of the Army Claims Service and have helped recover compensation for victims of medical malpractice.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.