Texas Federal Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Representing injured patients under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)
Before 1946, victims of medical malpractice could not sue the United States government for their injuries. The passage of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) changed that, offering the government more limited immunity when an employee’s negligent actions injures another individual. Navigating the FTCA can be complicated and require counsel experienced working with federal claims.
In a typical medical malpractice case, a patient and their attorney make a claim against the negligent physician or hospital in court. However, when the doctor or health care clinic are acting under the scope of the federal government, liability lies with the government rather than the individual party. The Texas medical malpractice attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger know how to work with federal claims, with a thorough understanding of the FTCA and how it may apply to your case.
What is the Federal Tort Claims Act?
Typically, the federal government cannot be sued under the theory of “sovereign immunity.” However, the Federal Tort Claims Act “sets forth procedures for presenting and resolving administrative monetary claims for personal injury, property damage, or death arising from the alleged negligence of officers and employees of the federal judiciary acting in the scope of their official duties.”
In short, this means if a government employee’s negligent acts caused you harm, you may have legal relief under the FTCA.
Individuals may bring claims under the FTCA for any personal injury. In the medical malpractice context, the FTCA can apply to your VA hospital or health care clinic, depending on their scope of funding under the government. All federally-funded clinics in Texas are subject to FTCA regulations – which means a completely different set of rules in the event of a medical malpractice claim.
What does it mean if a health care clinic is federally funded?
When a health care clinic receives funding from the U.S. government, it becomes eligible for malpractice coverage under the FTCA. If a patient suffers injury from medical negligence in an FTCA-eligible clinic, they cannot sue the government employee who caused them harm, as those employees are immune under the Act. Instead, the U.S. government is financially responsible. You may have a different case if the medical professional who committed malpractice was an independent contractor, but it is important to consult with experienced attorneys first.
Texas has 73 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), serving over 660 delivery sites. If you are unsure as to whether your health care facility is federally funded, you can ask if they are a “deemed” FTCA health care center, check their website, or contact the Bureau of Primary Health Care. The attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger can also assist you with this part of your case – you must file your malpractice claim correctly, or risk losing your case entirely.
What if I am injured by medical malpractice in a federal clinic?
You may have a federal medical malpractice case if you suffered injury in a Texas facility or hospital run by the Veteran’s Health Administration, Department of Defense, or the Department of Health and Human Services.
Injured individuals have a statute of limitations of two years to file an administrative claim (Standard Form 95) with the appropriate government agency. Our Texas attorneys can advise you as to the correct agency with which you should file. If you cannot resolve or settle your claim administratively, you have the option to bring a lawsuit. We have the knowledge and resources to guide you through this process, which can be quite complex if you’re unfamiliar with the FTCA. Let us help.
What type of errors lead to medical malpractice?
We put our trust into our medical professionals. Unfortunately, doctors and other health care providers aare fallible and make mistakes. But when these mistakes rise to negligence and cause innocent patients harm, our attorneys ensure they are held accountable. Common medical errors and negligence leading to injuries include:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. When a physician fails to make the correct diagnosis or diagnoses a patient with the wrong condition, a patient’s illness and health may worsen. Additionally, a patient may also suffer harm from unnecessary treatments and medications.
- Surgical mistakes. From operating on the wrong body part to leaving an object inside a patient, surgery errors are a common form of patient harm. These can also include using non-sterile instruments or injuring another organ or tissue during a procedure.
- Medication errors. Pharmaceutical negligence affects millions of patients each year, leaving them with serious or disabling injuries. Adverse reactions, overdose, medication mix ups, and other careless mistakes can all lead to patient harm.
- Birth injuries. Delivering a baby puts both mother and child in a vulnerable position, and careless doctors can injure a newborn when they fail to anticipate problems. Excessive use of force with birthing tools, failure to order a timely C-section, and failure to monitor mother and child can all result in tragedy and a potential malpractice claim.
- Anesthesia errors. Too much or too little anesthesia can cause long-term harm to a patient, as can failure to monitor vitals during a procedure. Patients may have an adverse reaction to anesthesia or wake up during a procedure if an anesthesiologist performs their job improperly.
The Texas attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger will evaluate the extent of your injuries and determine the fair amount of compensation to which you are entitled. Talk to us today about the details of your case.
Can I sue the military for medical malpractice?
Yes, in some cases. Up until recently, active duty service members were restricted from bringing medical malpractice claims against military medical hospitals and clinics under the Feres Doctrine. This legislation barred active military personnel from taking legal action against the government for any type of negligence, including malpractice.
The signing of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) changed all that. Under the NDAA, active duty personnel may file medical negligence claims against doctors, surgeons, hospitals, clinics, and other medical professionals and facilities. Department of Defense (DOD) guidelines require that injured service members show that their health care provider “had a professional duty to the patient involved and by act or omission breached that duty in a manner that proximately caused the harm.”
Our legal team can determine if your claim is eligible under NDAA guidelines, as it is still a restrictive process.
Under the NDAA, court litigation remains prohibited and malpractice claims are handled administratively by the DOD. The DOD reviews and substantiates each claim, and passes on any claim over $100,000 to the Department of the Treasury to review. If you were injured from malpractice as a reservist, you are only eligible under the NDAA if your injuries occurred during federal duty. Finally, pain and suffering damages are capped at $500,000.
Once the DOD makes their decision, you won’t be able to review, appeal, or contest it.
If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry. The Texas injury attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger can answer all of your questions. What’s important is your or your loved one’s recovery. While you take the time to heal from your injuries, we will determine the best avenue for financial compensation for your losses and expenses, and then fight to ensure what happened to you never happens to anyone else again.
Tenacious federal medical malpractice attorneys serving Texas
Suffering injuries from medical negligence can be overwhelming and traumatic. Trying to seek compensation from a government entity is even more difficult. Look to the attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger for experienced legal help. We represent Texans injured by medical malpractice, fighting for the compensation to which they’re entitled. We can help. For more information or to schedule a free consultation at one of our offices in Austin, Dallas, or Fort Worth, please call 800-455-8686 or fill out our contact form.