But you have to go about it according to federal rules. Sometimes this makes it a bit harder than state courts but, oddly enough, in many ways it is easier if you know what you're doing.
If a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider harms you in some way that involves your treatment and the mistake is so bad it falls beneath the minimal standard of care expected - sorry about the legalism, something really bad let's assume - and this causes a harm to you, then this is malpractice at the Veterans Administration. This is something more than the simple negligence of a car accident. This would have to be something more than a bad outcome. This would have to be a mistake so bad that another doctor as an expert can say the mistake should never have been made.
At this very first step, you probably need to talk to a lawyer about anything that is not as clear as amputating the wrong leg. Malpractice is an odd animal in the law that requires expert testimony to know.
The first step whether you or your lawyer do this is to file a claim against the VA within two years of the time of the malpractice. Under rare circumstances there might be some wiggle room on this, but it's best to assume if the VA gets the claim more than two years - even if is 12:01am on the next day - then the case cannot even begin. This claim must state the reasons for the claim with all supporting documents and a claim for a specific amount of money damages. This is another one of those times to talk to a lawyer if you don't know how make the claim and if you don't have any idea how much your case is worth.
The VA then has 6 months to look over the claim. It can settle it with you - again you need to know what the case is worth - or deny the claim. If it denies the claim or you don't think its offer is good enough, then you have six months to file suit after the denial or the six month limit to settle has gone by. If you let you six months lapse, again you could lose your case before it began.
OK, that's the complicated part. I mentioned sometimes Veterans Administration malpractice cases can be easier than most malpractice cases. This is often true and due to another quirk in the law: you don't sue a doctor or nurse personally, you can only sue the Veterans Administration for malpractice and through it sue the federal government for malpractice. You might think this makes things harder but not so. Although no one likes to be sued, in my 30 years of experience it seems to me doctors take being sued more personally than anyone else. This means it makes it harder to settle because they hardly ever can bring themselves to admit they made a mistake.
When you sue the VA, you don't deal with the doctor who can make a call to settle or not settle,or the doctor's insurance company, you're dealing with folks in the government, for example the Assistant Attorney General's office, who have absolutely no personal interest in the case. It's a case for them that according to their principles should be handled without emotional involvement. So, if a case needs to be settled, then oftentimes it can be made.
The last quirk in a Veterans Administration malpractice case is that a judge hears and decides this case without a jury. Again, you have an unemotional person deciding this case. Not a bad way at all to have a medical malpractice case decided.
For you the claimant in a Veterans Administration malpractice case, there is another advantage, the fee. In a medical malpractice case in state court, the fees are generally 40 -50% of whatever is recovered . In a Veterans Administration medical malpractice case, like all federal negligence case, the fee is no more than 25% of the recovery. Both recovery and fee are up to the judge.
This may have answered one question only to raise two more. So, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form on the top of this page or on the contact page or call: 662-328-9365
The courts can hold the Veterans Administration for Damages from Malpractice.
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