In the past, injured military service members could not sue the United States government for any reason. This included medical malpractice when receiving care from a military-associated doctor. In June, Congress passed a law to modify this doctrine, allowing veterans and active-duty members to file a claim for medical malpractice.
The rules about military medical malpractice have now changed
The Feres Doctrine virtually barred any lawsuits against the government by military members for any reason. Now, the law has changed. How this plays out in practice remains to be seen. The Pentagon has put out a very dense set of rules, and it may require further revision. Service members may not know exactly how these rules will play out until they start to file claims.
The new rules are still opaque
While service members can begin to seek some justice for medical malpractice that injured them, their rights may still be limited. The legislation does not allow for lawsuits. Instead, there is a claims process as the troops would need to make their filing with the government. Nobody knows yet who will be evaluating these claims and the exact contours of the process that they will use. Nonetheless, the new rules are a start toward righting a historic wrong. Like any other government rules, these could change in the future if they prove to be unworkable.
In the meantime, service members who may have a claim against the federal government should begin to learn the process to potentially receive compensation. Military medical malpractice cases may benefit from the help of an attorney as they navigate these new rules and the process that needs to be followed to receive financial compensation.