Hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs are intended to provide military veterans with medical care after their service to the country. But sometimes, VA hospitals commit acts of negligence or recklessness in treating veterans. A veteran who has been harmed by care from the VA may wonder about their rights to file a lawsuit against the VA. Pursuing legal claims against the VA involves a complicated process, so a veteran injured by medical malpractice committed by the VA should seek out the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against the VA for Malpractice?
Veterans who are harmed by medical malpractice that occurred at a VA medical facility may file a claim against the VA pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. Under the FTCA, a veteran can recover compensation for additional medical expenses, loss of income and earning capacity, and pain and emotional suffering and distress. The family of a veteran who passed away due to medical malpractice can also pursue a wrongful death claim against the VA under the FTCA.
Why Are There So Many Claims Against the VA?
Unfortunately, medical malpractice is committed by the VA a lot more than it should be. One of the primary reasons for this is that the VA, unfortunately, hires lower-quality medical providers, including those who have faced multiple malpractice claims themselves. In addition, lack of institutional oversight means that negligent, reckless, or even intentional conduct by providers often goes undetected by department officials.
What Is the Process for Filing Suit Against the VA?
If you wish to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the VA, you will need to follow strict deadlines under the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania law as well as under the FTCA.
Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations gives you only two years from the date that the negligent care occurred, or the date that you first discovered (or should have discovered) that you were harmed by medical malpractice.
In addition, the FTCA requires you to notify the VA of your claim by submitting a completed Standard Form 95. SF-95 gives the VA the opportunity to decide whether they want to pay your claim. Once you have filed your SF-95, the VA has six months to deny your claim or offer to settle your claim. If the VA denies your claim or fails to respond, or does not offer compensation that is acceptable to you, only then can you file a lawsuit against the VA. It is also important to remember that filing a SF-95 does not stop the statute of limitations, so you will need to ensure that you have enough time to allow the VA to respond to your notice of claim so that you can timely file a lawsuit if necessary.
You can only file a lawsuit against the VA to recover compensation for the harm that you suffered due to the actions that an employee committed “within the scope of their employment”. The FTCA also precludes you from recovering punitive damages in a medical malpractice suit against the VA.
Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your VA Malpractice Case in Pennsylvania
Were you or a loved one injured due to VA malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh VA malpractice attorneys at Matzus Law LLC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout Pennsylvania, including Butler, Cranberry Township, Greensburg, and Washington. Call us today at (412) 206-5300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant St., Suite 3210, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.