A common question we receive: can members of the military sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”)? Unfortunately, active-duty service members generally cannot sue under the FTCA. But, in 2019, Congress took steps to provide some help the servicemembers and their families through the passage of SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019.
Law Before the Act
In 1950, the Supreme Court in Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135 (1950) held that the United States is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries to military servicemembers sustained while on active duty. Since 1950, the government has used the “Feres Doctrine” to prohibit large numbers of claims by military servicemembers from being filed. The result was that military servicemembers and their families were left with no options, particularly with respect to those injured by medical malpractice claims against military healthcare providers or hospitals.
The SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019
In 2019, Congress passed the SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act. This Act allowed for a servicemembers to pursue medical malpractice claims – turning the page on fifty years of roadblocks for military members and their families. As part of the Act, active-duty service persons can present medical malpractice claims against the Department of Defense. The DoD was required to develop procedures for handling these claims when they are filed.
Options For Active Duty Servicemembers Injured by Malpractice
Although Congress passed the Act, active duty servicemembers and their families need counsel experience with dealing with the federal government to advocate on their behalf. According to some media reports, DoD has yet to fully implement procedures necessary for victims of malpractice to get the relief they deserve. If you are an active duty servicemember or a family member of an active duty servicemember and have been injured by the malpractice of a federal medical provider, experienced attorneys can help you navigate this new and evolving administrative process.
The attorneys at Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson have significant experience litigating FTCA cases with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.