Americans often hear about the numbers of military service members who are injured or killed in action. Less well known is the fact that countless veterans are receiving poor medical treatment at Veterans Administration facilities nationwide. If it’s happened to you or a loved one, you may have the right to hold the VA accountable for its negligence.
Military medical malpractice claims can be tricky. Both federal and state laws come into play. There are also strict time limits and other criteria that must be met in order to bring a claim to court. Let the experienced medical negligence attorneys at Powers & Santola, LLP, assist you. We can help you navigate the bureaucracy and build a strong case on your behalf.
To learn more about how a VA medical malpractice lawyer can help with your claim, please contact our offices in Syracuse, Albany or Rochester by calling us or filling out our online contact form.
- 1 Understanding Military Medical Malpractice Cases and the VA
- 2 Veterans May Be Entitled to Section 1151 Benefits
- 3 Types of VA Medical Malpractice Cases That Our Lawyers Handle
- 4 How Do I File a Veterans Malpractice Claim?
- 5 How Long Do I Have to File a VA Medical Malpractice Claim?
- 6 Contact Our Experienced Veterans Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today
Understanding Military Medical Malpractice Cases and the VA
Many veterans mistakenly believe that it is impossible to file a lawsuit against the federal government. In some cases, that’s true. But the VA is not immune. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows veterans or their families to file a medical malpractice claim against certain U.S. employees if substandard care resulted in someone’s injury or death. Whether you lost a limb in a botched surgery or learned that your baby suffered a birth injury at a VA facility, you could be entitled to compensation if the injuries were caused by negligence.
Medical malpractice means that a healthcare provider performed some action or omission that deviates from the expected standard of care and from what another person with similar training and experience would have done. There is wide array of medical personnel who could be held liable for malpractice, such as doctors, nurses and medical technicians, among others.
In a VA medical malpractice case, it must be shown that the negligent provider was a federal government employee in order to sue. That’s not as easy as it may seem. The VA has a vast network of more than 1,200 medical facilities. High demand and understaffing mean that the VA often works with independent contractors to care for veterans. But they are not considered federal employees. That means that you cannot file a malpractice claim against the VA if something goes wrong while being treated by one of their contractors.
There are certain exceptions as to who constitutes a federal employee according to FTCA requirements. An attorney can investigate the terms of employment for the individual suspected of VA medical malpractice to determine if he or she may qualify as a VA employee.
Veterans May Be Entitled to Section 1151 Benefits
Victims of medical malpractice may also be eligible to receive benefits by filing a Section 1151 claim. The malpractice must have occurred at a VA hospital, outpatient facility, medical examination or surgery to qualify.
Section 1151 allows injured veterans to file for a disability rating the same way that veterans claim for service-connected disabilities. You may also be able to receive Total Disability Individual Unemployment Benefits (TDIU) if your condition prevents you from working. However, you must be able to show that:
- You are a veteran.
- You sustained an injury as a direct result of VA-sponsored medical treatment, or;
- The care that you received aggravated a pre-existing medical condition.
In any medical malpractice case, you are required to provide extensive medical evidence to support your claim. The lawyers at Powers & Santola, LLP, can explain whether a Section 1151 or FTCA is best for you in our free consultation.
Types of VA Medical Malpractice Cases That Our Lawyers Handle
The legal team at Powers & Santola, LLP, fights vigorously for claimants and family members injured by VA medical malpractice in cases involving:
- Traumatic brain injury/head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries/paralysis
- Loss of limb (amputation)
- Birth injuries
- Failure to diagnose a serious medical condition
- Delayed diagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Prescription mistakes
- Wrongful death
- Other forms of malpractice
How Do I File a Veterans Malpractice Claim?
A malpractice claim against the Department of Veterans Affairs is not like a typical medical malpractice lawsuit. You cannot go straight to court. Instead, you must file an administrative claim at your regional VA office. You are not required to have an attorney, but it is advisable to consult with one before submitting any claim to avoid jeopardizing your legal rights.
The process begins by filling out a Form 95. This will outline the circumstances of your case, the extent of your injuries and the amount of compensation that you seek. You must provide a detailed justification of your requested sum, with evidence such as:
- Itemized medical bills and receipts
- Amount of lost income
- Doctor statements
- Anticipated lost future income
- VA medical reports
- Employer statement about missed work
The VA has six months to respond to the administrative claim. They may accept, offer to settle, reject, or dismiss the claim.
If you are not satisfied with the result of the administrative process, you have the option to file a lawsuit in federal court. The case will be decided by a judge because jury trials are not permitted.
How Long Do I Have to File a VA Medical Malpractice Claim?
The statute of limitation is two years from the date that you were injured, or the date at which you should have discovered the injury was connected to VA medical treatment. Missing that deadline could bar your claim altogether. It’s wise to contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Contact Our Experienced Veterans Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we are tremendously grateful for the risks that veterans took for our country. Let us help you seek the compensation you deserve for injuries caused by medical malpractice in the VA system. Call or fill out our online form to arrange a free case evaluation. There is no fee unless we win.
Testimonial from a Client
We went to Powers & Santola after they were recommended by several lawyers in my area. I did not know where to turn. My husband at age 49 had woken up from a simple operation not being able to move, speak or breathe on his own. It was a very stressful time. From my first phone call to this firm I felt right away that I had found the right people. They got back to us within a day and evaluated our situation. From then on I was kept up to date on what was being done on our behalf. The team, as I called them, from the secretary to the attorneys, Dan Santola, Tim Higgins and Mr. Powers could not have been more supportive. We live in Lake Placid about 100-plus miles from Albany, where our lawsuit took place, and at every turn they did their best to make things easier on us as to traveling and seeing doctors nearby if it was possible. They made several trips to us so we did not have to go to Albany. By the time the trial was over we had forged friendships and we still keep in touch now. When the trial was over and we went home, we felt that we were leaving family. As I stated before this time in our lives was the most difficult thing we had to go through and Powers & Santola took a weight off my shoulders when they took our case.