The United States established the Veterans Health Administration to provide health and medical services to veterans. The program helped establish hospitals, clinics, and medical centers aimed at assisting veterans and is run by the federal government, which means the medical professionals working at the facilities are usually considered federal employees.
As with any medical center, physicians perform risky procedures and sometimes make mistakes that injure people and lead to New York medical malpractice claims. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Department of Veteran Affairs released information regarding thousands of claims against various VA medical centers for an approximately 20-year period. The report shows that the Syracuse VA Medical Center ended up paying out approximately $2 million in claims.
The claimants were not always permitted to file lawsuits for medical malpractice against VA medical centers. Because of governmental immunity, lawsuits were not permitted until the passage of the Federal Tort Claims Act in 1946. The law waives governmental immunity and gives veterans the right to recover money damages from the federal government for injuries caused by the medical malpractice of federal employees.
The claims procedure for medical malpractice against a governmental entity like a VA medical center is different from most civil lawsuits. For instance, the statute of limitations for claims is only two years. Under New York law, most medical malpractice claims have a 30-month statute of limitations. In addition, claimants must file a federal tort claims act form (Form 95) before the case can move through the federal court system, which is the exclusive venue for cases against the VA. Generally, the only named defendant is the United States, which acts as a proxy for the acts of its employees.
The report shows that over an approximately 30-year period, 31 claims were filed against the Syracuse VA. Some examples of the types of claims filed include misdiagnosis, delay in treatment, and failure to recognize complications from surgery. Ten of the cases ended in the patients’ deaths. As mentioned above, the total amount paid between claims resolved administratively and in court was $2 million. In comparison, the average hospital malpractice claim in New York was worth approximately $400,000 in 2007.
The DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Law Firm has extensive experience handling claims against the Veterans Administration. Our entire practice is dedicated to helping injured people. Contact us if you or a loved one was injured as a result of care provided by the Veterans Administration. We will obtain an objective evaluation of the care and treatment that was provided. Consultations are always free, and you are never responsible for any legal fees unless we are able to recover money for you. To speak with an attorney about your injury at a Veterans Administration Medical Center, call Syracuse-based DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers at 315-479-9000 or contact us online. We offer evening and weekend appointments, as well as home and hospital visits.
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