Quality medical care is something we all value, both for ourselves and for our loved ones. When substandard medical care results in serious injury to a patient, one of the means of compensation we have at our disposal is medical malpractice litigation. When it comes to the medical care provided by doctors in VA hospitals, though, suing for medical malpractice isn’t as easy due to certain legal protections, though it can be done.
The federal government can be held accountable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for government doctors and other medical professionals whose acts of negligence result in the harm of a patient. One of the key things to keep in mind about these cases, though, is that there are time limitations as to when these claims can be brought.
Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a claim for medical malpractice must be brought either within two years of the cause of action or within six months after the date the government mails notice of final denial of a claim. Those who miss the date are unable to file a claim, and courts generally enforce the statute of limitation strictly.
That being said, a recent United State Supreme Court decision ruled that plaintiffs may be able to sue the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act after the statute of limitation has tolled if they did everything they could to comply with the deadline but simply did not have important information about their case prior to the deadline. In other words, federal judges have authority to extend the deadlines for filing these claims in certain circumstances.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that medical malpractice patients can successfully bring a claim if they fail to act in time. The best policy for those who have been harmed by a VA or other government medical professional is to have one’s case evaluated and begin building a case as soon as possible after the injury occurs. Doing so ensures that one is prepared to file a claim as soon as is feasible and avoid missing the deadline.
Source: mysanantonio.com, “High court makes it easier to sue government for negligence,” Mark Sherman, April 22, 2015.