An elderly veteran stands proud in his military uniform.

Our veterans sacrifice so much to keep our country safe, but can they file a lawsuit against the VA?

Shouldn’t our country do everything they can to keep them safe too, including holding the VA accountable? Well, there’s plenty to unpack here. Let’s start with malpractice and lawsuits against the United States Department of Veterans Affairs .

Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals are supposed to provide America’s heroes with quality medical care. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, doctors who treat veterans make grave mistakes, many of which could be easily prevented.

When this happens, victims of VA medical malpractice often ask, “Can you sue the VA?” Many people assume it’s impossible to sue the government. (In some cases, that’s true). However, you can bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against the VA.

The catch? Filing a VA lawsuit is a complicated process that requires a lawyer’s expertise. If you or a loved one think you may have a case against the VA, reach out to Hampton & King today to learn more about your rights.

Can You Sue the VA for Negligence, Misdiagnosis, or Malpractice?

Veterans, their family members, or their legal representatives may file VA medical malpractice claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

If you were hurt in a VA medical facility due to negligence, misdiagnosis, or malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary damages. This compensation may cover:

► Lost income and earning capacity

► Medical expenses

► Pain and suffering

► Emotional distress

In addition, a family member of a veteran may file a lawsuit against the VA for wrongful death.

A man recently discharged from the military deals with veteran malpractice.

Uncovering The Truth: Malpractice & The VA

VA medical malpractice occurs more often than you might think.

In fact, a recent USA Today investigation pulled back the curtain on a horrifying truth: the VA has been hiring negligent doctors and covering up their mistakes for years.

One veteran had to undergo amputation of his leg. The Reason?  VA doctors left 10 inches of plastic tubing in an artery while repairing blood vessels. Another suffered a stroke while having teeth extracted and was incapacitated for life. These are just two of thousands of cases for which the VA has paid millions of dollars in the past decade.

Are VA Hospitals to Blame?

The problem lies not only with the doctors themselves, but the hospitals that hire them. A VA hospital in Iowa City, Iowa hired a neurosurgeon who had been sued for malpractice at least 12 times in 15 years.

A VA medical center in Oklahoma hired a psychiatrist who had engaged in sexual misconduct. He went on to engage in sexual misconduct with a VA patient and even tried to persuade his patient to lie about it.

Although the VA has attempted to improve their medical facilities in recent years, the agency is still plagued with problems. In 2017, they admitted that at least 14 of their health care centers provided lower quality care than other private hospitals nearby.

This year, reports came to light that “system failures” at a VA hospital in West Virginia allowed a nursing assistant to knowingly cause the deaths of 7 veterans by overdosing them with insulin.

How to Sue the VA for Malpractice, Misdiagnosis & More

A VA lawsuit can be more complex than most medical malpractice cases. The process is different for the following reasons:

► You must follow a strict timeline for filing your claim against VA medical malpractice. You may only file a lawsuit within 2 years of when the injury occurred.

► Before filing a VA lawsuit, you must notify the VA of your complaint using Standard Form 95. This allows them to settle the claim out of court if they wish. It’s important to seek the help of a knowledgeable attorney before you fill out SF-95, to you record all of the details and evidence.

► The VA has 6 months to reject, ignore, or offer to settle your claim. If the VA does not respond to your complaint or does not offer an acceptable settlement, you may then file a VA lawsuit.

An image of two American flags and a two pairs of military dog tags.

VA Lawsuit Restrictions

Certain restrictions affect whether you can sue the VA, and the amount you can sue for.

For example:

► You may only sue the VA for damages for the actions of an employee “acting within the scope of their employment”.

► You cannot seek punitive damages against VA hospitals.

► You are only entitled to the amount of damages you would receive if you were filing a lawsuit against a private institution.

► State laws may impact how the FTCA applies to your case. For example, some states put a limit on reward amounts. Consult a medical malpractice attorney to review your specific circumstances.

How To Get Help & Sue The VA

Have you or a loved one suffered from medical malpractice or misdiagnosis in the VA? It’s crucial to contact a lawyer as soon as possible, since the statute of limitations means you must file your VA lawsuit within two years. Schedule a free interview with Hampton & King today and discuss your case with our experts.