Claims against the VA: What You Need to Know

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Claims against the Veterans’ Administration (VA) fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) – an area of the law in which only a handful of attorneys focus their practices. Knowing who can bring a claim against the VA and understanding how it differs from claims in the private sector are important for every military employee, and their families, to know.

Who Can Bring a Claim against the VA?

Any veteran can file a Federal Tort Claim against the VA or, if required, file a lawsuit in order to seek compensation for an injury caused by medical negligence, according to Joe Callahan, a Virginia attorney and retired naval officer who represents injured veterans and military dependants in medical malpractice claims against the Veterans’ Administration. He explained:

In cases where an injury causes the death of a veteran, then any family member, or in some cases even a friend who would be qualified to bring such a lawsuit under state law, would be allowed to proceed on behalf of the deceased veteran, themselves or the veteran’s estate. Our firm can rapidly identify and advise callers as to the requirements of law in their various states. If state law requires formal court appointment to represent the veteran’s estate, this can usually be accomplished without undue legal complexity or expense.

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VA vs. Private Sector Claims

There are many similarities and differences in the handling of medical malpractice claims against the government and those against a healthcare plan or a doctor in a private setting. Callahan explained:

On the one hand, pursuing a claim against the government is considerably more complicated because of the requirements for strict compliance with the complexities of the Federal Tort Claim administrative process. However, once that phase is completed, and if a claim against the VA needs to be litigated, then a malpractice lawsuit against the United States is handled just like a claim against a private doctor’s insurance company.

Working with FTCA Attorneys

Callahan told us that he finds it more satisfying to work in the FTCA process than in the field of private malpractice litigation. He said, “In my experience, government attorneys and government law offices, such as the regional attorney offices for the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the VA Office of General Counsel, try not to lose sight of their duty to treat veterans and their survivors fairly and courteously – even though their primary responsibility is to protect the interests of the government.”

While Callahan admits that he doesn’t always see eye to eye with the veterans who bring malpractice claims, he says that he enjoys working with them and butting heads as the need arises. Because of that, his firm has an excellent track record of working with government agencies to obtain recoveries for their veteran clients.

If you or a family member has been injured due to medical malpractice by the Veterans’ Administration, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and strictly confidential. To contact an experienced attorney, please click here. We may be able to help.

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