Yes, the Army, Navy, or Air Force can be sued in certain circumstances. If you or a family member are the victim of medical negligence or suffered serious personal injuries as a result of the negligence of a federal employee, you may be able to bring a claim against a federal agency, like the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, or the Department of the Air Force. If the negligent health care provider in your case committed malpractice at a domestic military base or a VA hospital, the case may be governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA is a federal law that allows plaintiffs injured by the negligent acts of federal employees to file claims against the United States for damages.

FTCA coverage beyond traditional VA and military base health care

Medical malpractice resulting from care provided by Indian Health Services on an Indian reservation is also covered under the FTCA. In 1992 and 1995, Congress further extended FTCA medical malpractice coverage to include federally funded clinics. The federally funded clinics must apply in order to be “deemed” a FTCA covered center, and the application must be renewed from year to year, so coverage can change. In 2004, Congress extended FTCA coverage again to volunteer health professionals at certain free clinics. FTCA coverage also applies to vehicular accidents with military vehicles, like military convoys. It also covers auto accidents with USPS Postal Trucks. It applies to some accidents in National Parks. There are many instances when injuries caused by the negligence of federal employees can give rise to an FTCA claim.

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How Do I Sue the VA, Army, Navy or Air Force?

Before you can file suit in federal court against the government, you must present an administrative claim within 2 years of the date of negligence to the appropriate federal agency before filing suit. The government agency must be given at least six months to conduct an investigation before suit can be filed in federal court. If the claim is denied, a claimant must either request reconsideration or file a lawsuit in federal court within six months of the date of denial or the claim is forever barred. In addition, some state law presuit requirements may apply to your case, depending on the jurisdiction. Talk to your lawyer about what conditions must be satisfied before bringing a lawsuit against the government in your case.  If you are unable to resolve the case administratively, then suit must be timely filed in federal court to recover against the government.

Can Active Duty Members Sue the Military?

Most of the time, active duty service members will be barred from suing the federal government under a judge-made law known as the Feres doctrine. If an active duty service member was injured “incident to service” while on active duty, typically those claims are considered barred, as are any claims by their family members for damages that they suffered as a result of the service member’s injury. However, if a service member’s dependent was the primary victim of negligence, service members are typically not barred from participating in claims that arise out of a civilian’s injury.

Should I File an Administrative Claim Myself?

It is usually better if you work with a law firm to present your administrative claim because there are many details of the law that a non-lawyer may not be aware of in presenting an administrative claim. You can lose valuable time correcting mistakes, or may use up one of the two chances that you have to present a claim administratively. Your safest bet is to consult with a law firm experienced in handling FTCA cases and work with them to present the best administrative claim possible. Don’t delay because the more time your law firm has to review the file and prepare your claim before the statute of limitations expires, the better.

Case Results

$1,000,000 Settlement

Army Medical Malpractice Cancer $701,790 received by clients $250,000 attorneys’ fees $48,209 litigation expenses Owen v. United States Darnall Army Community Hospital Our client underwent surgery at the U.S. Army MEDDAC in Nuremberg, Germany. Following surgery, our client transferred her care to DACH. Despite pathology results that revealed cancer…

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$1,300,000 Settlement

Army Birth Injury Medical Malpractice $1,000,000 received by clients $300,000 in combined attorneys’ fees & costs Ortiz v. United States Evans Army Community Hospital Mother was given a drug she was allergic to during labor and delivery causing injury to child.

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$1,560,000 Settlement

Veterans Affairs Medical Malpractice Spinal Injury $1,133,963 received by clients with lifetime benefits $390,000 attorneys’ fees $36,037 litigation expenses J. White v. United States Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital Our client went into the VA in San Antonio, Texas for a spinal surgery. During the surgery, the surgeon negligently bruised the…

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$1,625,000 Trial Judgment

Air Force Medical Malpractice Brain Injury $1,067,624 received by clients $418,248 attorneys’ fees $227,001 litigation expenses Hogans v. United States Madigan Army Medical Center Army providers at the Lewis-McChord Army Base in Tacoma, Washington, as well as Army doctors at Winn Army Community Hospital in Ft. Stewart, Georgia failed to…

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$1,800,000 Settlement

Veterans Affairs Medical Malpractice Hip Injury $1,315,992 received by clients $450,000 attorneys fees $34,007 litigation expenses Hedgpeth v. United States Portland VA Hospital Our client was an Army veteran who was negligently treated by VA doctors at the Portland VA Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. The VA doctors negligently operated…

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$2,000,000 Settlement

Veterans Affairs Medical Malpractice Brain Injury $1,432,118 received by clients with lifetime benefits $500,000 attorneys’ fees $67,227 litigation expenses Richardson v. United States Audie Murphy VA Hospital Our client was on the telemetry floor of the hospital. He went to the bathroom, pushed the nurse call button, and coded. Providers…

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$2,000,000 Settlement

Navy Surgical Medical Malpractice $1,433,5000 received by clients $500,000 attorneys’ fees $66,500 litigation expenses Shurtz v. United States Pensacola Naval Hospital, Florida Our client was a Navy veteran who was negligently treated by Navy doctors and providers in Pensacola, Florida. The Navy providers negligently performed a gall bladder removal surgery…

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$2,150,000 Settlement

Army Medical Malpractice Misdiagnosis $1,492,813 received by clients $537,500 attorneys’ fees $119,687 litigation expenses Cloer v United States Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Ft. Campbell, Tennessee providers failed to diagnose colorectal cancer leading to death. During the course of this case, we discovered a simple test would have discovered the cancer…

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$2,247,280 Trial Judgment

Army Medical Malpractice Shoulder Dystocia $2,100,000 post-trial settlement $1,597,500 received by clients with lifetime benefits $532,500 attorneys’ fees $63,100 litigation expenses Jackson v. United States Darnall Army Community Hospital Army Providers in Killeen, Texas at Fort Hood mismanaged a shoulder dystocia during labor and delivery causing permanent brachial plexus injury…

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$2,300,000 Settlement

Navy Medical Malpractice Birth Injury $1,623,930 received by clients with lifetime benefits $575,000 attorneys’ fees $101,070 litigation expenses Holweger v. United States Portsmouth Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia Naval healthcare providers failed to properly monitor the baby’s fetal monitor strip, which caused hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and a permanent brain injury.

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$2,800,000 Navy Birth Injury Settlement

Navy Medical Malpractice Birth Injury $2,216,740.36 received by clients with lifetime benefits $560,000.00 attorneys’ fees $23,259.64 litigation expenses Calcagno v. United States Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) Misdiagnosis of a marginal ulcer leading to fetal distress. Mother required emergency laparotomy with cesarean section, and baby had significant developmental and neurological…

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$2,800,000 Settlement

Veterans Affairs Medical Malpractice $2,058,503 received by clients $700,000 attorneys’ fees $41,497 litigation expenses Mahaney v. United States Shreveport VA Medical Center Surgical Medical Malpractice that resulted in paralysis of the lower extremities.

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