Protecting and fighting for veterans injured by medical malpractice in Virginia
Because a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital negligence case works differently than a typical malpractice case, it is crucial to have a Richmond medical negligence attorney who understands how to work with the United States government. At Phelan Petty, we understand the state and federal laws involved with military malpractice claims, as well as the proper criteria, documents and deadlines. Contact us today and we can help guide you through the process.
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Examples of VA hospital malpractice claims
A 2014 New York Times article pointed out the startling rate of malpractice and medical errors at veterans’ hospitals. For example, they found that babies born at military hospitals were twice as likely to suffer injury during delivery than babies born nationwide. The article also mentioned that military hospital systems tend to lag behind others in terms of protecting patients from harm.
Some of the common forms of medical malpractice and negligence that can occur at VA hospitals include:
- Anesthesia errors
- Birth and maternal injuries
- Cancer misdiagnosis (lung, prostate, breast and cervical cancers)
- Emergency room errors and mistakes
- Failure to diagnose medical emergencies (strokes or heart attacks)
- Medication errors
- Radiology errors (misread x-rays, CT scans or mammograms)
- Surgical mistakes
I am a veteran. How do I file a medical malpractice claim?
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows servicepeople and military dependents who are victims of medical negligence to bring a claim in federal court for their injuries. The FTCA has strict procedures for filing malpractice claims, and failure to submit the correct forms and documents can result in you being barred from bringing a lawsuit. It is imperative to contact an experienced VA hospital negligence attorney to ensure protection of your legal rights.
When you are the victim of malpractice at a VA medical facility, you do not take legal action against the hospital – you file an action against the federal government. This means you and your attorney must address specific issues in order to move forward successfully. For example, you have only two years from the date you were injured (or the date of knowledge of your injury) to file your claim – this is called the statute of limitations. Filing past this date almost always results in being barred from recovering compensation for your injuries.
VA malpractice and negligence claims are filed under the FTCA, using a Standard Form 95. Our attorneys can review this form with you in detail. Note that a section of the form mentions the “sum certain,” which is the specific amount of compensation you are seeking for your injuries. We understand how to determine this sum to the penny, taking into account every single detail, expense and prognosis regarding your injuries. We base our calculations on:
- Itemized medical expenses, including your prescriptions, physical therapy and other related costs
- Statement from your employer verifying time and wages lost from work due to your injuries
- Itemized future medical expenses, including necessary adaptive technologies or further surgeries and procedures
- Medical history and reports from the VA hospital where you were treated
- Statements from your physician
Our attorneys also work with forensic experts to ensure we determine the fair and correct amount of compensation for you or your loved one.
FYI: As of 2020, active duty service people may file claims if injured due to medical malpractice. Read more below.
What if I am an active duty member of the military?
In the past, active duty military members and their dependents were not permitted to bring malpractice claims against military medical facilities and hospitals, as interpreted under the Feres Doctrine. However, upon the reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2020, this law changed to include active duty service members. Now, those service members can file claims for compensation in the event they are injured as a result of negligent or incompetent treatment at a military hospital or facility.
Under this legislation, active duty service members may not sue the federal government. Instead they can file a specific malpractice claim that the military reviews through a formal procedure. If they find your claim valid, they determine the value and amount of compensation you will receive for your damages. The Richmond malpractice attorneys at Phelan Petty can explain this process in more detail and assist you with any questions you may have.
Proving a claim for military medical malpractice
If you are a veteran and have been injured due to medical negligence in a military hospital, you may be eligible for a military malpractice claim. The basics of any malpractice claim involve proving four main points:
- A doctor/patient relationship existed
- The doctor or medical provider acted in a negligent or careless manner
- That negligence caused your injury or illness
- Your injury or illness caused personal damages and losses
In other words, your doctor made a mistake that caused you injury, leading to medical bills, loss of job or paycheck, and pain and suffering. If negligence resulted in the death of your loved one, our attorneys will bring legal action on their behalf.