Federal Tort Claim & Military Medical Malpractice

Do you think you have a claim against the U.S. Government?

Prior to legislative actions in 1946, the federal government basically had immunity from civil lawsuits. Today, the Federal Tort Claims Act constitutes a limited waiver of sovereign immunity and allows citizens to file tort claims against the government and its agents. If the negligent behavior of a federal employee causes loss of life, property damage or personal injury while they are performing their job, the victim or their survivors may have the right to seek compensation to the same extent as from a private individual in similar circumstances.

Claims against the government or any government employee involve complex laws and can be complicated by special protection and provisions. First, federal torts are presented in a federal court as a bench trial (heard before a judge only), so there are obvious differences in how your legal team will approach the presentation of your claim. Although the court will apply the laws of the state where the act, accident or omission occurred, it is imperative that your attorney has experience in the bench trial process. At Spohrer & Dodd, our federal tort claims attorneys have provided stellar representation and have a strong record of successful verdicts and settlements in serious personal injury cases where the negligent party was a government agent, employee or contractor.

Who Is Eligible to File in Federal Tort Claims?

Filing a malpractice claim against the government requires compliance with a rigorous set of rules and procedures and may take a substantial amount of time to conclude. Active duty service personnel are generally ineligible to sue the United States for injury sustained while in service. The exception to the FTCA dates back to a 1950 Supreme Court decision known as the FERES (pronounced “fairies”) Doctrine. Other circumstances that impact the viability of a federal tort claim for military medical negligence include:

  •  Status of Negligent Person
  •  Location Where Negligence Occurred

Can persons in the military sue for medical malpractice?

Medical professionals and organizations that serve military personnel and families are held to the same “standard of care” as those that treat private citizens. These are the medical community’s accepted and recognized standards for patient care. When injury or death is the result of a breach of these standards, military members and dependents may have a legal claim for compensation. Military medical negligence claims are not limited to the conduct of doctors, but may also apply to other medical care providers and health care facilities. However, military medical negligence is an extremely specialized and complex area of legal practice.

We are often asked: “Who in the military arena is eligible to sue for injuries caused by medical negligence?” Claims of this nature by military personnel and families are directed at the federal government and ruled under what is known as the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This complex act provides recourse for those injured by the action of a federal government employee or agency. Those that are eligible to sue under these regulations include:

  •  Non-Active Duty Personnel
  •  Military Dependents
  •  Military Retirees

Before a lawsuit can be filed, what is known as an administrative claim, or pre-suit notice, has to be filed. The government and its representatives have up to six months to respond to the initial negligence claim.  Effective representation of clients in these claims requires mastery of the rigorous federal laws and processes that govern them, as well as in-depth knowledge of medicine and military healthcare operations. Our military medical negligence lawyers in Jacksonville are well versed in these complexities and are ready to handle the challenges of your medical negligence or military malpractice case. If a military doctor or hospital has injured you or a family member as the result of treatment, the best course of action is to contact our military medical negligence lawyers who are experienced in this complex legal specialty. They will evaluate your case and determine your eligibility for filing. With limited exceptions, there is a two-year statute of limitations imposed on claims brought against the U.S. government.

Maximum Recovery in Military Medical Malpractice or Negligence Cases

Our dedication is to obtaining maximum recovery for each client we represent. One example of our dedication to success in this field of law is Burch v. The United States. A navy wife underwent an unnecessary hysterectomy at a naval hospital by doctors treating her for chronic pelvic pain, supposedly caused by endometriosis. This life-changing surgery was performed although the doctors knew her real condition was a treatable disease of the bladder. The verdict awarded to our client in this case was $2,040,000.

Additional information on Military Medical Negligence issues:

 The Federal Tort Claims Act limits the time within which such claims can be brought and specifies that the government must be put on notice of a potential claim before it can be filed. If you have been injured, or a loved one has died, following medical care at a military or veterans’ hospital or clinic, it is important that you contact an attorney so that your claim can be investigated as soon as possible, to be sure that all applicable deadlines are met. Call our office today or use our website’s “Do I Have a Case?” contact form for a prompt response.

How Federal Tort Claims differ from Civil Suits

 Even though the Federal Tort Claims Act assigns responsibilities similar to those of a private citizen committing the same act, there are certain limitations outlined in the act that can apply. For example, after Congress passed the FTCA, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the government’s immunity (the Feres Doctrine) for cases involving active members of the armed forces who sustained injuries in the course of duty. Since other sources exist for compensation of their injuries, active-duty service members cannot bring a lawsuit against the government. Some basic limitations and exceptions regarding FTCA lawsuits include:

  •   Only Federal Employees Can Be Sued
  •   Only for Claims of Negligence
  •   Only Within the Scope of Employment
  •   Only if Permitted by the Laws of the State

Again, numerous circumstances can apply when bringing a suit under the provisions of the FTCA. For example, contractors who are treated as employees may be liable for their actions. Additionally, certain federal law enforcement officers may be sued for intentional misconduct. Once it has been determined that you do have a valid claim, it must still be filed within strict time limits. Plus, federal tort claims must first be filed as an “administrative claim” with the federal agency responsible for the negligent act. This is typically accomplished using a standard government form (SF 95).

You may have the right to file a claim against the United States if you have been involved in an accident with a government vehicle, injured by a government employee fulfilling the responsibilities of their employment or damaged by the actions, or lack thereof, of government employees or contractors acting as employees in a veterans hospital. However due to the unique laws that govern the process of making a claim against the government, seeking the help of an experienced federal tort claims attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome. If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligent or unreasonable behavior of government employee or agency, contact the personal injury attorneys at Spohrer & Dodd to determine your best course of action.