One of the major benefits granted to our
country’s military veterans is the right to medical treatment at Veterans Administration facilities. Veterans look to these facilities for proper, professional and adequate medical care. While most of the care at the VA is just that, there are times when the medical personnel do not meet these standards of care. While VA medical personnel are employed by the federal government, this does not relieve these medical professionals of the same obligations of any other medical provider in the medical community.
Although these professionals are held to the same standards, there are certain nuances that further complicate the pursuit of a medical negligence claim against the Veterans Administration. If certain steps are not followed in preparation and pursuit of a medical neglect claim against the Veterans Administration, veterans may limit their rights or possibly waive their right to pursue a claim all together.
The first and most important step in the initiation of a claim against the Veterans Administration is the administrative exhaustion requirement. Administrative exhaustion means that the claim must first be presented to the VA before a lawsuit can be filed. These cases are filed in Federal Court, but the Veteran must first complete a form known as a Standard Form-95 (“SF-95”). This starts the process and the Veteran must prepare the SF-95 under a law known as the Federal Torts Claims Act.
The Federal Torts Claims Act is a Federal law that prescribes the requirements and framework to bring a claim against the federal government and provides a limited waiver of sovereign immunity by the federal government. It provides for a specific procedure to present such a claim. The claim is then presented to the Veterans Administration and reviewed by the Regional Counsel, attorneys employed by the federal government. Generally, as in any medical malpractice claim, the Veteran and their attorney must have the case reviewed by an expert in the appropriate medical specialty to provide an opinion as to how the medical provider failed to meet the standard of care. The veteran can then present the medical opinion to the government’s attorney who may accept the claim and make an offer to settle the case. As with any medical negligence claim, the client and their attorney can either agree to resolve the case or choose to file the lawsuit in Federal Court.
The presentation of the claim through the SF-95 in the proper manner is very important. Experienced medical negligence attorneys are necessary to ensure that the claim is properly presented. Major errors such as limiting the amount of the claim or failing to present all proper claims are common mistakes when either the Veteran attempts to present the claim on their own or utilizes a representative who is not experienced in this area of the law. For example, the failure to provide all evidence when submitting the SF-95 or failing to request all recoverable damages will likely limit the Veteran’s ability to recover for all claims and damages in Federal Court should a lawsuit be filed.
Experienced attorneys, such as the lawyers at the Patberg Law Firm, know what damages to set forth, what claims to present and what evidence to submit. Veterans have the right to be protected from medical negligence at the VA and have the right to be fully compensated for their injuries and damages. The Patberg Law Firm has 25 years of experience presenting these claims. If you, a loved one or a friend have had their right to proper medical care violated at a Veterans Administration facility, contact Attorney Rolf Louis Patberg at the Patberg Law Firm at 412-232-3500 or email attorney Patberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.