In addition to serving their country during time of war, members of the military are just as susceptible to becoming victims of negligence as civilians. Whether they’re involved in an accident caused by another or are victims of medical malpractice, military personnel can suffer just as much as anyone.
The Feres doctrine
Since members of the armed forces are typically treated by medical personnel who work for the military, if they become victims of medical malpractice and a lawsuit is appropriate, the military would be subject to the lawsuit.
However, for decades military personnel have been unable to file any such lawsuit. What’s known as the Feres doctrine has banned service members from suing the military for any reason.
Medical malpractice claims
Due to a policy change effective in 2021, military personnel now have an avenue to redress injuries caused by medical malpractice. Though it is not a civil lawsuit, a new process allows them to file claims and seek compensation for injuries caused by military medical personnel who commit malpractice.
Claims must be submitted to the Defense Department, which will then review the merits of the claim. Generally, claims must be submitted within two years of the incident, or within two years of the date the service member discovered the injury was caused by medical malpractice.
Economic damages will be considered, but so too will pain and suffering. Any substantiated claims for less than $100,000 will be paid directly by the Pentagon, while claims exceeding that amount will be handled by the Treasury Department. Although claims are not subject to judicial review like a civil lawsuit, service members do have the ability to appeal if a claim is initially denied.