Cummings Law, PL discusses a new bill that would allow service members to sue the military for medical malpractice.

Senators’ Bill to Allow Service Members to Sue for Malpractice

Medical malpractice claims give you the right to sue for a lapse in quality medical care that resulted in injury or illness. A lapse in quality medical care occurs when a medical provider fails to act in a way that other medical providers would have acted under similar circumstances. If a person suffers harm because of this, then they may file a medical malpractice claim. Service members, however, are currently unable to sue the military if they are the victims of medical malpractice. U.S. lawmakers are taking steps to help change this.

Legislators Introduce Bill to Allow Service Members to Sue Military for Medical Malpractice

Two U.S. senators, Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy and Hawaii Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono, introduced a bill that will allow active service members to sue the military for malpractice and negligence. This bill looks to overturn the 1950 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Feres v. United States, also known as the Feres Doctrine. In the Feres case, the Supreme Court decision effectively banned active duty service members from being able to sue the military for medical malpractice or negligence. The Feres Doctrine broadly applies to cases involving training incidents and workplace violence. This decision has also been applied to incidents of sexual assault.

In 2011, the Supreme Court refused to hear a California case that sought to remove the medical malpractice liability shield provided to military hospitals under the Feres Doctrine. However, the Court did not comment as to why they refused to hear the case. The new bill, named “SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019”, looks to undermine the Feres Doctrine. 

The SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019

Essentially, the bill would grant military personnel the ability to sue the government for negligence or wrongdoing that happens during medical care at military hospitals outside of a combat zone. If it passes, the bill would have a great economic impact. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would cost the government an average of $135 million every year in claims. Also, if the law is retroactively applied, it is estimated to cost $2.7 billion over the next 10 years.

The U.S. senators named the bill in honor of Sgt. Richard Stayskal, Army Green Beret. Doctors failed to properly diagnose Sgt. Stayskal, a Special Forces soldier and former Marine infantryman, with lung cancer during a routine health screening. By the time the cancer was found, it had metastasized and is now terminal. The Feres Doctrine prevents Sgt. Stayskal from suing the hospital that failed to properly diagnose him.

Contact Cummings Law, PL Today

We often take our right to bring medical malpractice claims for granted. However, bringing a successful medical malpractice claim can provide you with compensation to cover medical care, cost of future medical care, and lost wages. Cummings Law can enforce your legal rights to compensation. Contact us today. You will be glad you did.