Changes are coming for military medical malpractice claims

Seeking care from a military doctor or institution is necessary for some servicemembers, but they should have the right to expect care that, at a minimum, meets the standard of care. One issue that military members had in the past is that they were barred from seeking compensation from the federal government in the case of medical malpractice.

In 2019, a member of Congress introduced the Stayskal Act, which is formally known as the SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act. It was named after a servicemember who was misdiagnosed with pneumonia when he had lung cancer. After he succumbed to the cancer, his family wasn’t able to seek compensation from the federal government because the Feres Doctrine prevented them from taking that legal action.

While the Stayskal Act didn’t pass, it served as the framework for a compromise that was included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which could help to hold the federal government accountable for damages in medical malpractice claims. It also gives the Department of Defense the duty of investigating these claims.

There are some limits to what liability the government has even under the new guidelines. For example, it can’t be held liable for attorney fees or anything other than 22 damages that are directly attributed to medical malpractice. Additionally, there is a limit of $100,000 for settlements unless the Pentagon approves a larger settlement amount.

If you were harmed by a military health care worker, you need to consult with someone familiar with these cases and the evolving laws. This can help you to learn your options so that you can determine how to move forward with your case.