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Federal Tort Claims Act Enables Veterans to File Against the VA

Steve Wagner

In direct response to post-WWII claims that citizens were left without adequate protection against the federal government, Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act that enabled veterans to sue the United States Government for personal injury, negligence, medical malpractice, and even wrongful death.

The question many veterans have is whether or not the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) can be used directly against the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the experience we have with this law, FTCA can be applied to the VA when done correctly, but it takes an experienced lawyer to navigate the legal red tape involved with the process of suing a government agency. When a case is taken to the Federal District Court, there are no provisions for jury trials in these cases, and they will only be presided over by a Federal Judge.

The FTCA can provide assistance and relief to any veteran who has suffered an injury, loss of property, or death as the result of negligence or a wrongful act on behalf of any VA employee who was acting within the duties of their employment. The scope of infractions for a VA employee typically includes violations like malpractice, neglect, and physical or verbal abuse of a patient.

Claims against the VA have six months to be disputed, otherwise the case is counted as a denial. If this occurs, the injured party has six months to refile the suit in a Federal District Court. Time limits must be strictly adhered to in these cases, because once the six months has expired, the case will be permanently barred.

While no provisions are allotted for punitive damages in the FTCA, Federal District Court statistics state that the median damage for medical malpractice suits is $463,000, with 29% exceeding $1 million, and 9% exceeding $10 million.

If you have a claim you would like to file against the VA, the expert litigation attorneys at Wagner Reese can assist you with your case. Please give us a call today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation.

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