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Military Medical Malpractice and the National Defense Authorization Act 2020

By Jason Bottlinger on May 15, 2020

For over 50 years, members of the military have suffered several medical ailments as a result of medical malpractice and have been unable to seek legal recourse against military doctors, hospitals, and clinics. This was based on the Feres Doctrine, which denied armed forces from pursuing tort claims for injuries under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). However, with the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act 2020, victims of military medical malpractice and their families can pursue lawsuits for damages suffered because of negligent military doctors.

What is Military Medical Malpractice?

Simply put, military medical malpractice is any negligent actions taken by a military physician, administrator, nurse, medic, or hospital that resulted in the injury or death of a member of the armed forces. Examples include failures to diagnose cancer, providing incorrect medication for medical ailments, or failure to properly perform a surgery.

Medical malpractice claims are based on the concept that medical professionals should provide a standard level of service in all procedures. When a doctor or nurse performs below that standard and a patient is hurt or becomes ill, then the victim may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim. However, to do so their case must meet the following criteria:

  • The standard of care was violated due to negligence
  • That negligence resulted in an injury
  • That injury resulted in damages

Damages can include additional medical bills, lost wages, disabilities or disfigurements, and any costs you have suffered due to hospital negligence. Prior to the National Defense Authorization Act, veterans could not pursue such claims and were forced to rely on limited health insurance coverage to deal with debilitation illnesses or injuries.

Filing a Military Malpractice Claim

If you are a member of the armed forces and were injured as a result of the negligence of a Department of Defense health care provider, then you may be eligible to pursue a military medical malpractice claim. The process has been developed by the Pentagon and each branch of the military is expected to evaluate them before sending them onto the office of the Secretary of Defense.

Military medical malpractice claims must be brought before the Department of Defense by either a service member or their legal representative, which includes surviving family members and attorneys. In addition, these claims must be filed within two years of the discovery date, when the illness or injury became known to the plaintiff. The malpractice must have also occurred at a military medical treatment facility or by a Department of Defense health care provider.

Where you submit a claim will also depend on what branch of the military you are in:

Members of the Army: You may submit a claim at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, to the Center Judge Advocate of the Medical Center in question, or with U.S. Army Claims Service, 4411 Llewellyn Avenue, Fort Meade, Maryland 20755, ATTN: Tort Claims Division.

Members of the Navy and Marine Corps: The navy provides legal services and counsel through the United States Judicial Advocate’s General Corps (JAG), as well as the necessary forms to submit a claim. Claims should be mailed to the Office of the Judge Advocate General, Tort Claims Unit, 9620 Maryland Avenue, Suite 205, Norfolk, Virginia 23511-2949.

Members of the Air Force: You may submit a claim at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at the nearest Air Force Base, or submit your claim by mail to AFLOA/JACC, 1500 W. Perimeter Road, Suite 1700, Joint Base Andrews, MD 20762. POC: Medical Law Branch, AFLOA/JACC 240-612-4620 or DSN 612-4620.

Generally, tort claims against the government are filed with a Standard Form 95.

Once the Department of Defense has received your claim, the Secretary of Defense will review your case. If they determine that you have a valid claim and that you should be awarded an amount at or below $100,000, then they will approve your claim. Even if your claim is above $100,000, the Secretary may still approve your claim but will have to report the excess amount over $100,000 to the Secretary of Treasury for final approval.

Questions About Military Medical Malpractice? Call Us!

The process for filing for military medical malpractice is still in its early stages and many members of the military or surviving members may not be sure if they qualify or how to proceed with a claim. If you have a medical malpractice claim against the military, reach out to Bottlinger Law L.L.C. Our Omaha medical malpractice attorney has long been a supporter of U.S. military members and veterans and can provide sound legal advice when filing your claim.

We can review your medical records, investigate the facility where the malpractice occurred, calculate the financial and personal costs to you and your family, and ensure all forms are filed properly with your branch of the military. Call us at (402) 505-8234 to secure compassionate and experienced legal representation.

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