Medical mistakes can have devastating effects on patients and their loved ones. In most cases, the affected parties can file medical malpractice suits with the court system if they suspect negligence. However, active-duty military personnel in California have not always had this option. Recent changes to federal laws have made medical malpractice claims a possibility for these residents.
Filing a military medical malpractice claim
A 1950 court case established what is known as the Feres doctrine. This ruling meant that active-duty personnel could not sue the government or hold it liable for injuries that resulted from their service. As a consequence, people in the military could not file a suit if they had suffered due to the negligence of an active-duty military physician.
However, the National Defense Authorization of 2020 made a slight change to the law. While active-duty members cannot file lawsuits against the government, they can submit medical malpractice claims. Such claims are not handled by the court system. Instead, the Department of Defense evaluates the claims and makes decisions about settlements.
Limitations on military malpractice claims
Active-duty military members fall into a unique legal category, so claims filed by these individuals have some limitations. The primary concern is that the injury to the service person took place while the patient was under the care of an active-duty military physician. Injuries caused to military personnel under the care of a civilian doctor or injuries to non-military dependents caused by an active-duty physician are still addressed through the court system.
Military medical malpractice claims are also subject to a time limit. In most cases, the government gives two years from the injury to file a claim. However, the time frame depends on the nature of the claim, and a medical malpractice lawyer may be able to argue for an extension.
Seeking help after an injury
Victims of medical malpractice deserve compensation and care whatever their profession. If you sustained an injury while under the care of a military physician, an experienced lawyer can help you file a claim.