Can Veterans Sue for Medical Malpractice in Florida?
As a veteran of our nation’s military, you’re just as entitled as civilians to receive top quality patient care from your health care providers. Unfortunately, just like doctors in the private sector, physicians with the Veteran’s Administration can make critical mistakes. You could suffer serious harm, pain and suffering, and other losses when a VA practitioner errs in delivering treatment. However, you may wonder about your rights when injured, since medical care is one of the benefits you receive from your service. Former military in your position often ask: Can veterans sue for medical malpractice in Florida?
The answer is far from easy, since the laws are complicated AND recently changed due to enactment of legislation. It’s wise to work with an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney regarding your claim, but some important information may help.
Recent Changes in the Law Benefit Veterans: Not long ago, the only remedy for veterans who suffered from medical malpractice injuries was to file a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act and/or the Military Claims Act. However, these laws severely limited what active military members and veterans could receive for medical errors. For one, you could not recover for medical malpractice that was the result of treating injuries you received during active service.
In December 2019, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), which eased the restrictions imposed by previous laws. You can now file a medical malpractice claim with the Secretary of Defense if you’re harmed because of errors by a VA health care professional.
Limitations When Filing a Med Mal Claim Under the NDAA: Though the law does put veterans in a better position compared to previous laws, there are still limitations to note:
- You’re only able to recover up to $100,000 when filing a medical malpractice claim with the Secretary of Defense. For amounts in excess of this limit, your claim is forwarded to the Treasury Department.
- There’s a statute of limitations under the NDAA which requires you to file a med mal claim with the Secretary of Defense within two years after you discovered the injury.
- In most cases, filing an NDAA claim is your sole remedy. The law doesn’t affect a rule that’s been in place since the 1950: The Feres doctrine, in which the US Supreme Court held that a member of the military cannot sue the US for injuries or wrongful death. The doctrine extends to medical malpractice claims from medical errors by the VA and other designated government health care providers.
Our Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Assist with the Process
As you can see, filing a VA medical malpractice claim isn’t easy – regardless of an expansion of rights for veterans. There are many procedural rules and time restrictions, so you’re in a better position to get proper compensation if you retain skilled legal counsel for assistance. If you’re a veteran and were harmed by a medical error, please contact the Miami medical malpractice lawyers at Freidin Brown, P.A. We can explain the legal process after reviewing the details of your case.