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Frequently Asked Questions: The Military Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Q: Who can sue the military for malpractice?

A: Generally, the following people can sue the United States for medical malpractice that occurred in a military medical facility and/or was caused by a military doctor:

  • Military Dependents
  • Active Duty Members
  • Retirees who were injured while they were retired
  • Veteran’s receiving injuries at VA or military hospitals

Q: How long do I have to file a claim for medical malpractice by a military doctor or at a military hospital?

A: Generally you have only two years from the date you knew you were injured and knew, or should have known, the cause of your injury.

The two year limit applies to infants, children, disabled persons, adults and death cases alike.  However, when the two year statute of limitations starts to run and exactly when you must file a claim for military medical malpractice or wrongful death, or risk losing your rights forever, varies greatly depending on many different factors and requires a careful analysis of the facts and the law.  If any civilian doctors or independent contractor physicians were involved, a state law statute of limitations, shorter or longer than two years may be involved as well.  As a result, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced military malpractice attorney as soon as possible after the malpractice occurs to make sure your rights are protected.

Q: Will you take my case against the military for malpractice even if it happened more than two years ago?

A: Maybe.

There are a few exceptions to the two year rule so we do investigate some cases even if it has been more than two years since the incident, to see if one of the exceptions may apply to your case. Furthermore, especially if a child is involved and if one of the child’s parents are still on active duty, or have been off of active duty for less than two years, there is a law that may allow for a limited recovery.  In these child cases especially, our lawyers have still been very successful in helping some families who unfortunately did not contact us until more than two years had passed.

Q: How do I file a claim for medical malpractice against the military?

A: There are two separate laws that apply to medical malpractice claims involving the United States military: The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which applies to injuries that occur on U.S. soil, and the Military Claims Act (MCA), which applies to injuries that occur at military medical facilities overseas.

Federal Tort Claims Act: For FTCA claims, an administrative claim (an SF 95) must be filed first-before a lawsuit is filed. The government then has a minimum of six months to investigate the claim and reach an administrative settlement or deny the claim. If the government has not take administrative action after six months has passed, they offer a settlement that you do not want to take, or they deny the claim, you can move forward and file a lawsuit in federal court. A federal judge will then decide the case.

Military Claims Act: For MCA cases, an administrative claim (SF 95) against the U.S. government is filed first, just as in an FTCA case. However, if the military then denies the claim, there is no right to file a lawsuit.  There is a limited procedure for appeals.

Q: Will my career or my spouse’s career in the military be harmed if I file a claim for medical malpractice against the Army, Navy or Air Force?

A: No.

In our 30+ years of legal experience, not one of our clients has ever experienced any type of backlash or retaliation from pursuing a claim for military medical malpractice. Furthermore, it is against the law for any doctor or other military member to retaliate against you for exercising your right to file a claim, so if it did happen, they would be punished under the law. 

Q: Will I lose access to military health care or will doctors not want to treat me if I file a claim for medical malpractice?

A: No.

Again, in all the years working as a lawyer for military families, not one of our clients has ever lost access to health care or had a doctor refuse to treat them because they filed a military medical malpractice claim. In fact, a recovery or settlement often provides clients with the financial freedom to use whatever doctors they choose and no longer be forced to receive military medical care, as many clients find it very hard to go back to the military doctor or facility where they received a serious injury. 

Q: How much will it cost me to file a claim against the military for medical malpractice?

A: It will cost you nothing unless we get a settlement or win the case for you.

You pay no attorneys’ fees unless we are successful in getting a settlement for you or we win your case at trial. This is called a contingent fee arrangement. In addition, we generally advance all costs on a case (such as the fees experts change to support your case) and repayment is not expected until there is a settlement or verdict, at which time the costs we have advanced will be repaid out of the proceeds.

For cases involving the United States on American soil (FTCA cases), federal law limits attorneys’ fees to 20% of any settlement reached before a lawsuit is filed, and 25% of any settlement or verdict after a lawsuit is filed, plus reimbursement for the costs we advanced to successful pursue the case which are also paid out of the settlement or award. For cases involving the United States overseas (MCA cases), federal law limits attorneys’ fees to 20% of any settlement reached.

Q: Do I have a case?

A: Tell us more about your case by filling out our short form on the right side of this page, by calling us at 1-877-695-8757 (24/7), or e-mailing us by clicking this link: LawHelp@MilitaryMedicalMalpractice.com and we will answer this question for you.

All medical malpractice cases require:

1. Proof that a doctor, nurse, or some other health care provider did something wrong, or failed to do something that should have been done; and
2. Proof that this bad care caused an injury.

In addition, if there was bad care, but you suffered no injury, or if there was good care, but you still suffered a complication, you may not have a case. A good medical malpractice trial lawyer will carefully investigate your claim and have it reviewed by a medical expert to determine if there is adequate support for a case. Military medical malpractice claims filed without appropriate investigation and/or support only add to the stress and financial burden experienced by those injured in a medical incident.

We carefully screen all of our cases and will not take a case we do not believe we will win. We believe in being fair and honest not only to the injured patients, but to the doctors involved as well. If the doctor did something wrong, we will aggressively pursue compensation for you. However, if we cannot get expert support for your claim, we will not pursue a frivolous lawsuit.

Q: How much is my case worth?

A: Case value depends on many factors.

If you review the verdicts and settlements listed on our Success Stories page, you will see there is a huge range of recoveries even for cases that sound very similar.

First, it is important for you to be aware that how much a case is “worth” is really not a question of how much a case is “worth” because no amount of money can replace what you have lost or erase what has happened to you. In that regard, there is no amount of money that would ever be able to compensate you for your injuries. What you lost is priceless.

Second, even though all military cases are filed against the United States, damages (how much money an injured party may recover) are treated differently depending on where the injury occurred. The law of the state where the incident happened is used by the federal judge to determine your recovery. Since different states have different laws on damages and different limits on damages (damage caps), very different recoveries for seemingly similar cases may result.

Finally, the facts of each case heavily influence how much the case is worth including:

For injury cases-

  • What is the cost of future medical care needed?
  • How bad are the injuries?
  • Does the injured person need in home nursing care?
  • Can the injured person still work?
  • Is there continued pain and suffering?
  • Is there significant disfigurement?
  • Is there a cap on damages in your state?
  • Are there any valid defenses raised by the United States and/or any statute of limitations problems?

For death cases-

  • How old was the person who died? If a person is very old or very young damages are often limited. In addition, some states do not allow recovery if a baby is stillborn.
  • Was the deceased person working at the time of his/her death?
  • Was the deceased person providing financial support to anyone?
  • Was the deceased person married and/or did he/she have any children?
  • Did the person have significant pain and suffering before death? Note: some states do not allow recovery for pain and suffering before death.
  • Is there a cap on damages in your state?
  • Are there any valid defenses raised by the United States and/or any statute of limitations problems?

As we learn more details about your case we will be able to advise you on what we believe may be a reasonable expectation for recovery.

Q: Will I work directly with an experienced lawyer?

A: Yes.

At Brown Law you always work with and talk directly to your own experienced lawyer from start to finish. Our lawyer returns telephone calls personally and answers all email personally as well. Our lawyer works directly with the experts evaluating your case and personally prepares all trial documents, conduct all settlement negotiations, handle all stages of the trial, and argue all appeals as necessary. We do not pass you from lawyer to lawyer depending on the complexity or stage of the lawsuit. Our dedicated personal service has been a key to success and excellent client satisfaction in all of our cases.

Q: Will I be able to meet with my lawyer in person?

A: Yes.

Our firm philosophy includes the commitment that “we are where you need us to be, when you need us to be there.”  What this means is that we routinely travel to our clients homes, wherever they are located.  It also means that you will not need to hire a new lawyer even if you change duty stations or leave the military and move home. 

Q: Have you handled any other cases like mine?

A: Yes.

We can answer that question without knowing more about your case because our trial lawyer has handled virtually every type of medical malpractice case.  The list below is only a sampling of the claims successfully settled or cases won at trial by the lawyer at Brown Law:

Q: Why should I hire Brown Law, a national military medical malpractice firm, rather than a local lawyer?

A: Because we have the experience you need to succeed.

Medical malpractice cases are extremely complex. Military medical malpractice cases are even more complicated because there is another set of laws, rules and regulations that must be added to the state laws. You case is too important to trust to someone who has not done this type of case or does not do it very often. By limiting our practice to military cases only for the past 30 years, we have gained invaluable experience and know how to successfully handle these difficult cases. 

Q: What experience and success have you had in military medical malpractice cases?

A: We have had more than 30 years of experience and success. Please review some of our results by clicking here: Success Stories

Q: Another law firm says they got the largest recovery ever achieved in a case. Have you gotten any large recoveries?

A: Yes.

We have gotten many large recoveries (see Success Stories). However, an important thing to remember when comparing law firms and their recoveries is that just because the firm has gotten one or more large recoveries does not mean there will be a similar recovery in your case. See the discussion in “What is my case worth?”  What is more important is whether the lawyer consistently gets excellent results for his or her clients. If so, it is a good indicator that your lawyer has the experience and ability to take good care of you too.

Q: Do you take military medical malpractice cases to trial?

A: Yes. We are trial lawyers.

We are experienced in all stages of trial work and will personally handle all aspects of your trial. However, we settle cases too. The best trial lawyers know that not every case should be or needs to be taken to trial. It is a delicate balancing of the enormous risks and costs of taking a case to trial versus accepting a settlement that provides a guaranteed recovery and significantly improves a client’s life. Obviously, the balance is different in each case, and a decision to accept a settlement or reject it and proceed to trial is made only after careful study of all the risks and considerable consultation with the clients.

Some lawyers may try to suggest that if not every case is taken to trial, the lawyers are somehow less worthy of handling your case. However, forcing a case to trial even in the face of a excellent settlement offer, is a practice that unnecessarily exposes clients to risks that often outweigh the benefits they may get if the case is tried to a verdict.

If a case is screened carefully before it is filed to make sure there is adequate support, if that case is then well prepared, aggressively pursued, and vigorously argued during the pre-trial process then the best medical malpractice lawyers can get an excellent result through settlement or mediation. Obviously, there are valid cases where the settlement offer is not acceptable or there is no offer to settle and those cases do go to trial. The thing to remember, however, is that it is not a badge of dishonor or somehow a sign of a lesser attorney, if a case is settled.

Q: My case happened overseas. Can you help me?

A: Yes.  We handle cases in all 50 states, all U.S. Territories, and at all military medical facilities overseas.  For more details about overseas claims, please click here

DISCLAIMER: An attorney-client relationship with us cannot be formed by transmission or receipt of the information on this Website and any information you send in an e-mail message to this website will not make you a client. We reserve the right to decline any representation for any reason. This Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should not act or rely on any information in this Website without seeking the advice of a lawyer

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