New Provision May Provide Compensation to Victims of Military Medical Malpractice

New Provision May Provide Compensation to Victims of Military Medical Malpractice

After decades of unjust treatment, victims of military medical malpractice may see some relief.  The Feres Doctrine, a Supreme Court decision handed down in the 1950s, provides that active troops may not recover damages for on-duty accidents.  This doctrine has been applied to include negligent medical care that has caused catastrophic harm, even death. 

When civilians are harmed by medical errors, they may file a medical malpractice lawsuit and recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages and emotional distress.  However, the Feres Doctrine has denied scores of victims similar relief.  While not overturning the Feres Doctrine, earlier this week, the annual defense authorization bill was drafted to include a provision which would provide payouts to those military personnel harmed by medical malpractice. 

This provision would constitute a positive first step in acknowledging the substantial damage to families who have first suffered harm due to military medical malpractice and then being victimized a second time when they are left without recourse.  

Specifically, the legislation provides that it “does not change or repeal the Feres doctrine, it authorizes the Secretary of Defense to allow, settle, and pay an administrative claim against the United States for personal injury or death … that was the result of medical malpractice caused by a Department of Defense health care provider.”

Changes to the Feres Doctrine have met with resistance in the past, as officials were concerned with treating injuries and death caused by medical negligence as different than other on-duty military injuries

The new legislation allows for administrative claims, that in most instances would be less than $100,000, although may be larger in limited circumstances.  While this is low, it at least provides a starting point for justice. 

For  more information, or if you have suffered harm due to medical negligence, please contact the experienced San Diego medical malpractice lawyers at Boswick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.

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