When a patient has been injured due to medical malpractice, that patient has the right to sue their doctor for the damages they caused. This is not the case for everyone, however. Military personnel currently do not have the right to sue the military for medical malpractice. This means that if a member of the military was injured due to the negligence of a military doctor, they would have no recourse to pursue compensation. A new bill introduced in the Senate aims to change that.
In the 1950 case of Feres v. United States, the Supreme Court found that, under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the military could not be held liable for injuries to active members of the military caused by the military’s negligence. This effectively barred military personnel from collecting damages for injuries they sustained in the line of duty. As a result, active duty military members don’t have the right to sue the military for the malpractice committed by military doctors. This also precludes family members from bringing a wrongful death suit if their family member dies as a result of medical malpractice. The doctrine is an unfair weight on the shoulders of military members.
New Bill and Suing the Military
In September, Senators John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced bipartisan legislation that would bypass the Feres Doctrine when it comes to claims for medical malpractice. The proposed legislation (along with a House bill that is also under consideration) would not allow service members to sue the military for medical negligence that occurs in a combat zone. However, the bill would open the door to allow active service members to sue for medical malpractice when they have been injured at home.
The bill reads: “A claim may be brought against the United States under this chapter for damages for personal injury or death of a member of the Armed Forces arising out of a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the performance of medical, dental, or related health care functions (including clinical studies and investigations) that is provided at a covered military medical treatment facility by a person acting within the scope of the office or employment of that person by or at the direction of the Government of the United States.”
This is an important step as it gives military members the respect they deserve and allows them to hold negligent doctors accountable for their actions. Service members should have their day in court and be able to pursue compensation for their injuries. A change in the Feres Doctrine has been long overdue.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, you should have your case evaluated by an experienced medical malpractice attorney. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have been helping the victims of medical negligence for over 50 years. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.