New law allows medical malpractice claims against military providers

Pursuant to a new act, military personnel can now bring medical malpractice claims against the government for injuries caused by negligent military medical providers.

The National Defense Authorization Act, which took effect January 1, allows service personnel and their families to file claims against the U.S. government for personal injuries or wrongful death caused by the negligence of a Department of Defense-employed healthcare provider.

Claims of medical malpractice will be filed through the Pentagon, which is currently developing a process for the intake, investigation, and monitoring of new claims. When the negligence of a military healthcare provider is proven, the Treasury Department will pay the service member’s claim.

The NDAA modifies a decades-old principle called the Feres doctrine, which holds that active duty service members cannot sue the federal government for service-related injuries. The NDAA, however, creates an exception for injuries received due to negligent military medical care, such as wrongful diagnoses, inadequate treatment, or outright mistakes by medical professionals.

There are two important caveats to the new act: the NDAA does not allow suits involving medical care received in a combat zone, and the act requires that plaintiffs seek an administrative remedy through the Pentagon’s new process, rather than suing in federal court.

Although the Pentagon is still developing its system for evaluating military medical malpractice claims, a Pentagon spokesperson stated that new claims may be submitted as the process is finalized. Service members will have two years from the date of their injury to submit a claim.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury due to the negligence of a medical professional, call the Nashville medical malpractice attorneys at David Randolph Smith for a free consultation.

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