Can You File a Lawsuit Against the VA?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Serving in the military can lead to serious injuries and long-term health concerns. Many veterans rely on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare delivery system to provide them with quality medical care after leaving the military. Unfortunately, medical personnel with the VA often make mistakes, leaving you wondering if you can file a lawsuit against the VA.
Even though the VA is a government-run entity, you can still file a medical malpractice lawsuit against them. When mistakes happen, or the negligence of the VA doctors or medical team results in harm to you, you need to know your rights.
An experienced medical malpractice and personal injury attorney can discuss your options, provide legal advice, and professionally guide you through the complicated maze that is a VA lawsuit.
Recently, there has been a rise in news stories about the horrific mistakes of the VA, showing that problems do exist. Doctors with a past of malpractice suits are hired by the hospitals and clinics, with no oversight or concern for the wellbeing of the patients. If you’re a veteran and count on the VA for your medical care, learn more about what your rights are if negligent practices cause you harm and how to sue the VA.
Who Can File a Lawsuit Against the VA?
Injuries of various types occur in VA hospitals and other medical facilities. These can be due to mistakes, misdiagnosis, negligence, or malpractice. Individual veterans, a family member, or another legal representative can file a VA medical malpractice lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Your attorney can even file a wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one has died due to poor health care service.
What is the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)?
The Federal Tort Claims Act is a federal law allowing those injured by the negligence of federal employees, including VA doctors, to file a claim against the United States for damages.
You must follow essential steps when filing claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Working with an experienced medical malpractice attorney with knowledge and previous dealings with the VA ensures you follow each step and get the compensation you deserve.
When Can You File a Lawsuit Against the VA?
Before you can file a lawsuit against the VA, you must first file an administrative claim under the FTCA with the Standard Form 95. To ensure acceptance, you must fill this form out 100% correctly. You will need to identify damages, present the exact amount of compensation you are seeking, and provide a complete description of the harm or injuries incurred.
To this administrative claim against VA personnel and facilities, you can add supporting documentation, including:
- Itemized medical bills
- Additional information on future medical expenses
- Full medical exam reports from the VA
- Statement from your employer about lost time and wages
Several other documents may be required as well. An attorney can help you determine the correct paperwork to include for faster resolution of your claim.
Once the claim is complete, the next step is to locate the correct administrative office for filing. This is usually not your local VA office, so ask your lawyer for help finding the right office to submit your claim. It’s essential that you not wait too long since you must file within two years from the time of your injury for your claim to be considered.
Once filed, you will need to work with that administrative office as required. This first step usually takes at least six months, during which you cannot move forward with the lawsuit.
If attempts to settle the claim fail, or you receive a denial on the administrative claim, your next available action is to file a lawsuit in federal court. However, if you do not hear back from the VA on your claim after six months, you have received a constructive denial, meaning you can move forward with filing a lawsuit.
After a direct or constructive denial of your administrative claim, you have six months to file an FTCA lawsuit. This deadline is imperative to note because if you miss it, you give up your rights to receive any compensation for the injury sustained at the hands of the VA.
Another critical deadline is the Michigan medical malpractice statute of limitations, which requires you to file a medical malpractice claim within two years of the date of injury.
Compensation Available Under a VA Lawsuit
The amount of compensation available under a VA lawsuit varies depending on the individual circumstances.
Often, state and federal laws place restrictions on compensation amounts allowed in these lawsuits. Under Michigan state law, there are limits on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. However, there are exceptions to this rule, so work with an experienced Michigan attorney to ensure you receive the highest amounts possible.
Compensation under a VA lawsuit may include:
- Medical expenses
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
Contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., to Learn More
If your loved ones or you personally have been the victim of medical malpractice by the VA, you need to know what to do next. The attorneys with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., have experience working with the VA and understand how to approach the claims process. Contact our office today at 866-MICH-LAW for a full review of your case during a free consultation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.