The National Defense Authorization Act Allows Service Members to File Military Medical Malpractice Claims
Legislation to reverse portions of The Feres Doctrine, named for the plaintiff in Feres v. United States in a 1950 Supreme Court Case, was finally enacted this year.
What is the Feres Doctrine?
The Feres doctrine held that members of the armed forces were unable to file military medical malpractice claims resulting from personal injuries suffered during service.
What is the NDAA?
The official rollout of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is effective July 16, 2021, changes this. The NDAA has essentially revised military medical malpractice law. It allows service members, with certain limitations, to bring administrative claims and seek compensation for personal injury or death resulting from medical malpractice in military medical treatment facilities.
The new military malpractice claims process is in addition to the benefits provided under the military’s compensation system, which also covers combat injuries, training mishaps, motor vehicle accidents, and other deaths or disabilities that occur in the line of duty. It is also separate from the Military Health System Healthcare Resolutions Program, which helps patients obtain information about concerns with prior medical treatments but does not provide legal recourse for military medical malpractice.
While the particulars of the policy were only announced last month, the services began accepting claims in January 2020 and the waiting list is growing significantly. Close to 300 claims have been filed for a total of $3.25 billion.
What are the Limitations of the NDAA?
- Claims must be received by DoD within two years after the claim accrues.
- A substantiated claim under $100,000 will be paid directly to the member or his/her estate by the DoD. Claims exceeding $100,000 will be reviewed by the Treasury Department.
- Any reservist claims must be for deaths or injuries that happened while the claimant was in a federal duty status.
How to File Military Medical Malpractice Cases
Claims are filed with the service member’s branch.
- Army claims are filed at the closest Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, the medical center where the malpractice occurred, or with the Army Claims Service at Fort Meade, MD.
- Navy and Marine Corps claims are filed with the tort claims unit of the Office of the Judge Advocate General in Norfolk, VA.
- Air Force and Space Force claims are filed with the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at the nearest Air Force base, or mailed to the Air Force Legal Operations Agency at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
To learn more about military medical malpractice claims, start by reviewing the Congressional document or contact your branch’s Judge Advocate.