From 1950 until now, former military personnel and their families couldn’t legally sue the military for injuries. This is based on the Feres doctrine and falls under the FTCA (Federal Tort Claims Act).
However, things are moving forward. Today, military personnel, veterans, and military family members can file claims for death or personal injury in certain situations.
Continue reading to discover more about the topic and how a wrongful death lawyer can help you find the military accountable for their actions.
The Feres Doctrine
The Feres Doctrine is a legal doctrine by the Supreme Court passed in the 50s. It comes from the idea of sovereign immunity in English law.
Its goal is to shield the government against legal claims from military personnel. The military could not be held accountable, whether it was for negligence, sexual harassment, or medical malpractice.
This means that service members and their families could not file for wrongful death or loss of consortium. However, there have been instances where some members were granted the right to sue the military.
The Stayskal Act
Almost 70 years after the Feres Doctrine, the Stayskal Act came into play. Richard Stayskal, a first-class Sergeant, took legal action against the military for medical negligence. He was misdiagnosed by a military doctor and ended up with stage 4 cancer.
After learning his story, Congresswoman Jackie Speier allowed medical personnel and their families to file a claim against the military for medical malpractice. This includes:
- Treatment and diagnosis delays
- Surgery negligence
- Medical prescription negligence
- Anesthesia complications
Suing the Military for Wrongful Death
Under the Military Claims Act (MCA), a civilian can sue the military for the wrongful death of a loved one. The civilian must be a military dependent, and a military employee must have caused the death.
This act also permits you to sue the military for causing property damage or injury to a loved one. In this case, veterans can also take legal action.
However, the MCA has many limitations. For instance, active military personnel cannot file a claim for the death of a loved one who was also part of the military.
How To File a Claim
Even though it is possible to file a claim against the military today, it’s still a rigorous and complex matter.
Below is a simple breakdown that will help you learn more about the procedure and follow the proper steps:
- Collecting evidence (personal accounts, medical documents, witness testimonies, etc.)
- Consulting an experienced attorney
- Filing an administrative claim a maximum of two years after the incident
After filing a claim, you can wait up to six months for the military to respond. You get another six months to file a lawsuit if they reject your claim.
Finally, you can file a lawsuit in federal court if you don’t want them to throw out the case. Remember that these deadlines are stringent, as is the entire legal procedure.
Choose The Right Wrongful Death Lawyer
When you’re part of a sensitive case like filing a claim against the military, you need a legal team you can trust. And the team at Haffner Law is an ideal choice.
Specializing in fields like personal injury, bad faith insurance, and wrongful death, we have years of experience handling sensitive and complex cases.
Contact us at 1-844-HAFFNER to get professional legal advice in a free non-obligatory consultation.