For years, active-duty service members could not file a claim against a military hospital or health clinic for medical malpractice because such government facilities were protected by sovereign immunity. But that is not the case any longer.
The Feres Doctrine, a 70-year-old court ruling, had blocked members of the military and their families from suing the government for injuries like medical malpractice and wrongful death. However, all that changed with the passage of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The law, while not abolishing the Feres Doctrine, loosens its restrictions, allowing active-duty service members to seek compensation under the Military Claims Act (MCA) for injuries or death while on active duty due to medical malpractice caused by a healthcare provider employed by the Department of Defense.
Like other medical malpractice claims, MCA claims can result in monetary damages for pain and suffering and economic loss. But unlike many other medical malpractice lawsuits, MCA administrative claims must request a definite monetary request for damages. And a federal court is prohibited from awarding damages in excess of that sum.
An MCA claim is opened by filing a Form SF95, similar to how Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) claim is initiated. But unlike an FTCA claim, if the government denies an MCA claim, you cannot sue in federal court; you must appeal the decision of the adjudicator (within certain time constraints) to the responsible department (Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force), whose decision is final.
Obviously, navigating this process is a complicated undertaking and requires attorneys knowledgeable in the process, such as those at Kline & Specter. The law firm has more than 50 attorneys, including five who are also doctors – the most in the nation – and has won hundreds of seven- and eight-figure medical malpractice verdicts and settlements.
The firm also has several attorneys who are military veterans, including David Williams, a West Point graduate who holds a degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Capt. Williams served in Iraq, Bosnia, and Germany and was awarded the Army Commendation for Meritorious Service for duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. He has an attorney/veteran’s working expertise in FTCA and MCA claims.
Also, an attorney at the firm is Terrance DeAngelo, a nurse and a highly decorated former captain in the Air Force Nurse Corps who worked as a nurse/medic in support of the Navy SEALs in Afghanistan. While on stateside duty he cared for traumatically injured troops and managed a staff of nurses and technicians who handled more than 1,500 surgical cases annually at an ambulatory surgery center.
If you or a loved one are an active-duty service member injured at a military hospital, or a military veteran catastrophically injured at a Veterans Administration hospital or healthcare facility, you may have grounds for an MCA or an FTCA claim.
Contact Kline & Specter for a free evaluation of your case.