Pentagon Reforms Military Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Guidelines
The Pentagon has announced reforms to its guidelines for those who win military medical malpractice claims against the Department of Defense. Those who successfully bring a case against the DoD may now get up to $750 thousand in damages unrelated to awards for “economic damages,” which have no cap.
The $750 thousand cap announced on October 20, 2023 is an increase from the previous cap of $600 thousand. Those suing the government for medical malpractice do not have a cap on lost wage compensation.
Pentagon Proposal For Further Military Malpractice Reform
In addition to the measures taken to raise the malpractice cap, the Pentagon is also considering reforms to the guidelines that reduce such damages by the amount of VA compensation for service-connected medical issues.
Under the proposed (but not enacted) guidelines, service members who filed VA claims would only have future VA disability payments deducted from the malpractice suit award for lost wages.
This is a proposed modification of the current DoD policy. Department of Veterans Affairs and DoD regulations typically prohibit “double-dipping” or being paid twice for the same issue.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits In DoD: A Recent Phenomenon
Troops were not always able to sue the federal government for medical malpractice. In fact, they didn’t have this option until the 21st century
According to Stars and Stripes, The Pentagon “began accepting claims in January 2020, but only began adjudicating them on July 17, 2021, when the interim rules on how to do so went into effect, according to the Federal Register.
FederalRegister.gov reminds us that the DoD’s medical malpractice claims process is separate from the Military Health System Healthcare Resolutions Program. Who can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the DoD?
According to the Federal Register, “The claim must be filed by the member of the uniformed services who is the subject of the medical malpractice claim, or by an authorized representative on behalf of a member who is deceased or otherwise unable to file the claim due to incapacitation…”
A claim may also be filed “by or on behalf of a reserve component member if the claim is in connection with personal injury or death occurring while the member was in a Federal duty status.”
Filing a medical malpractice claim against the Department of Defense may require service members to retain the services of legal counsel.
About the author
Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.