On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 which permits active duty military personnel or their authorized representative to file claims for death or personal injuries caused by the medical malpractice of a Department of Defense heath care provider.
Service members have historically been barred from filing medical malpractice claims against military physicians under the Supreme Court’s ruling in Feres v. United States, which held that military personnel could not sue the federal government for personal injuries incurred during military service. While the new law does not repeal the Feres doctrine, it does permit service members to file administrative claims for injuries.
To be eligible for compensation, the personal injury or death must have occurred in a covered military medical treatment facility while the physician was in the performance of heath care functions and was acting within the scope of employment.
Service members must file a claim within two years of the incident to be covered by the law. This two-year statute of limitations has been extended for the first year only, allowing an injured service member to file a claim in calendar year 2020 for injuries that occurred in 2017.
Under the new law, the Department of Defense is liable only for a compensable injury, loss, or damages attributable to the medical malpractice of a Department of Defense heath care provider.
Congress has allocated $400 million to investigate and compensate military medical malpractice claims. Meritorious claims under $100,000 will be paid by the Department of Defense. Claims valued above $100,000 must be reviewed and paid by the Treasury Department.
The new law requires the Department of Defense to issue policies and procedures to govern the filing and processing of claims. In the meantime, service members can utilize existing avenues established by each military department to file a claim.
If you or a loved one was injured as a result of military medical malpractice since 2017 you may be eligible for compensation. Please contact us today at (844) 334-5459 for a free consultation and case evaluation.