The Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller represents Veterans of the United States Armed Forces in medical malpractice claims against the Veterans’ Administration (VA). Medical negligence claims filed against VA hospitals for a wide range of mistakes, including prescribing the wrong medication, botched surgeries and the failure to correctly diagnose illnesses have continued to increase. Some mistakes have even resulted in death.
What is Medical Malpractice?
The American Bar Association defines medical malpractice as negligence committed by a healthcare provider whose performance of duties departs from standard practices, resulting in harm to a patient. Most medical malpractice lawsuits are filed against doctors who have failed to provide adequate care to a patient. Malpractice puts the responsibility on doctors to act in a way that will not result in an injury to the patient; if doctors are forced to pay for the costs of their mistakes, they will be more careful to ensure that mistakes do not happen in the first place.
Your Right to File a Claim
If you are a veteran that has been injured due to negligent medical practices by the Veterans’ Administration (VA), our attorneys can help you determine if you have a claim for a lawsuit. If you are injured, you must first make an Administrative Claim directly to the agency that caused the injury, giving them a chance to address any issue and offer a resolution. You must file this within two years from either the date of malpractice, or the date that you knew or should have known of the malpractice. Once an administrative claim has been filed, the Veterans Administration has six months to review and investigate the matter. The department may respond to:
- Accept the claim and pay it in full
- Settle the claim for less
- Reject the claim outright
If this claim is denied, you have (6) months to file a Section 1151 Claim or FTCA lawsuit to recover damages.
Understand Section 1151 & FTCA Claims for Damages
When you are injured by an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you have two options for seeking a financial remedy. The first type is to file a claim for disability compensation in order to receive what is referred to as “Section 1151” benefits, covering any injury resulting from a VA hospital, outpatient clinic, medical examination or surgery. These injuries are also categorized as being service-connected. The paperwork and the evidence required in a Section 1151 disability compensation claim is typically less than that required in an FTCA claim (below).
The second type of remedy is to sue the government under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA), covering the actions of health professionals as well as any agent or employee of the VA. This is a slightly broader category including liability for injuries or negligence that may be independent of treatment. Here, the damages paid to veterans are not calculated based on the individual’s ability to earn a living. Rather, the formula for damages is based on suffering and the economic loss that has resulted from your injury. And unlike disability compensation, which is paid monthly over a number of years, you receive payment in one lump sum if you win an FTCA lawsuit.
Your claim should state your injury, the negligence that you believe caused the injury, and a definite sum of damages you would like to receive. A federal court can’t award you any more than you ask for in your claim, so it is critical to get expert legal assistance in determining the amount of damages to claim.
If you can prove that you were harmed due to negligence, you are entitled to three different type of damages, including:
- Economic damages. These are awards designed to compensate you for quantifiable losses such as the lost wages and the costs of medical care.
- Non-economic damages. These include damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and the like. These are all things that are difficult to translate into monetary terms, but juries are required to evaluate each situation accordingly.
- Future damages. These are damages you have not yet incurred, at the time of the verdict, but which are reasonably predictable to occur, or continue to occur, in the future.
VA Medical Malpractice Cases
Our lawyers handle many types of VA hospital medical malpractice cases including but not limited to:
- Failure to diagnose/misdiagnosis/delay of diagnosis of cancer or other diseases
- Surgical negligence (i.e. “foreign body” cases involving leaving tools or other equipment inside the body after surgery)
- Failure to adequately monitor and/or treat a disease
- Wrong medication administered/prescribed
- Unnecessary surgery/medical procedures causing injury
Your health and future are too important. Work with an experienced attorney from the Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller to protect your rights.