Civilian Medical Malpractice Vs. Lawsuits Against Military Medical Providers
Medical malpractice is always difficult to prove. It is even harder to sue a military hospital or doctor employed by the Department of Defense. In fact, until recently, such lawsuits were not even allowed. A change in the law made military health care providers accountable too, but it is still an uphill battle. You need an experienced lawyer to guide you through either system.
San Diego attorney Andrew Chivinski is one of the few who handles military medical malpractice cases. He represents active-duty military personnel (and their civilian spouses) in California and nationwide in holding military institutions accountable for lasting harm or death.
How A Civilian Suit Works
When a civilian suspects that medical negligence caused serious injury or prevented a person from getting timely treatment, they can file a civil suit against the doctor and/or the hospital. The plaintiff needs an affidavit from another doctor in the same field of medicine who will attest that the facts indicate professional malpractice. If the case goes forward, the discovery process begins, and the claim is resolved through negotiations or possibly a jury trial.
How Malpractice Is Different In The Military
For decades, the Supreme Court’s Feres Doctrine barred active-duty military personnel from suing the federal government. This meant servicemembers could not sue the military hospital where they received care or the treating physician or surgeon who was negligent.
A recent change in the law was a landmark win for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. They can now assert the same medical malpractice claims as their civilian counterparts, including surgical malpractice, birth injury, failure to diagnose and other types of negligence.
However, the legal process is not the same.
- Military medical malpractice claims are handled through an administrative process. The U.S. Department of Defense investigates and adjudicates the claims.
- If the claim is found to have merit, compensation will be based on similar (nonmilitary) cases in the federal system.
- This process naturally favors the government, since they make the rules and final decisions.
- There is a strict time frame to bring a malpractice claim against the federal government.
The silver lining is that military medical malpractice cases will typically be decided sooner than civilian lawsuits, which can take several years.
The Right Lawyer To Take On The U.S. Government
To bring a medical claim against a military medical provider, it is all the more important that your attorney knows what he’s doing. Mr. Chivinski has extensive experience in medical malpractice law and federal court litigation. He formerly worked for 10 years in insurance defense, so he knows how to prepare a strong argument backed by medical records and how to counter the government’s version of events.
Chivinski Law Firm, APC, represents personnel from Camp Pendleton, The Presidio, Edwards Air Force Base, Fort Irwin, Fort Hunter Liggett and all military bases in California, as well as Fort Hood, Fort Myers, Fort Bragg and military installations throughout the United States.