The new year is giving way to a new beginning for U.S. military personnel, thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, signed by President Donald Trump.
Effective January 1, 2020, a spending provision in the NDAA allows service members to file claims against the military for alleged medical malpractice in military facilities. The Act alters the 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres Doctrine, which prevented active-duty service members from suing the federal government for medical malpractice.
How Was the Medical Malpractice Provision in the National Defense Authorization Act Conceived?
Sergeant 1st Class Richard Stayskal underwent a routine physical with his Fort Bragg physician, where he received a CT scan at the Womack Army Medical Center and was diagnosed with pneumonia.
Six months later, the 38-year-old Green Beret was coughing blood and requested special permission to leave the military base to pursue medical care from a civilian specialist.
After that visit, Mr. Stayskal was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer by a pulmonologist.
During the six months that elapsed between his visit with the base’s doctor and the private provider, the tumor doubled in size without a diagnosis and became terminal.
Fighting for his — and all military personnel — ability to hold the military hospital accountable, Mr. Stayskal formed a legal alliance and challenged both the House and the Senate to change the longstanding ruling that kept military personnel from pursuing medical malpractice claims.
His success, which is directly reflected in the new legislation, changes the way our military can conquer their injuries and illnesses when they are not properly diagnosed or treated by their respective Fort’s medical providers.
Who Can Military Personnel Sue for Alleged Medical Malpractice?
Military personnel will not be able to sue the Department of Defense. However, the law creates an avenue for holding military medical facilities accountable for their oversights.
Military members who are victims of medical malpractice will file for compensation just as they would for workers’ compensation.
What Benefits Will the Ndaa Bill Provide Military Personnel?
At Bertoldo Carter Smith & Cullen, our medical malpractice attorneys in Las Vegas, Nevada understand that a cancer misdiagnosis can aggressively change our clients’ lives – leading to extended medical care requirements and wrongful death cases throughout the country.
Our Las Vegas attorneys applaud the provision outlined in NDAA, which will provide:
- Active duty military service members the ability to be represented by an attorney
- An administrative claims process that allows active duty military to receive compensation when they are injured and killed from medical malpractice in military treatment facilities
- Authorization for active duty military to receive uncapped economic and non-economic damages for their injuries resulting from medical malpractice
- The Department of Defense with the authority to create policies and procedures for processing the claims, and the authority to create uniform standards regarding duty, breach, causation, and damages for medical malpractice claims
- More transparency, requiring the Department of Defense to report the number of claims, the resolution of claims, and any other information relevant to the claims process to Congress
What Type of Financial Recovery Can Military Personnel Pursue From the NDAA?
Going forward, military service members who have proven and successful claims are eligible to receive monetary compensation.
While there is no cap on the amount military service victims of medical malpractice can receive, the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will cost $400 million over ten years to cover the claims.
The new law is retroactive and allows military personnel who were affected by medical malpractice — beginning 2017 — to submit a claim for financial recovery.
If you or your loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice while receiving medical care on a U.S. military base, contact our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Bertoldo Carter Smith & Cullen today at (702) 505-8115 to schedule a free consultation. We are available now to discuss your unique circumstances and answer any questions you may have about the new law and how it affects your eligibility to pursue financial recovery.