What happens if your VA doctor is a quack and injures you while you are getting treatment at a VA medical center?
Fortunately you have two options to take advantage of if you are injured while undergoing treatment at a VA medical center. The first option is called a “1151 Claim.” The “1151” just refers to the part of the United States Code that permits you to make this type of claim. To win, you must show:
- That your injury (or the death) was proximately caused by “carelessness, negligence, lack of proper skill, error in judgment, or similar instance of fault” OR
- By an “event not reasonably foreseeable” in VA’s furnishing of medical care.
This basically means that you were hurt because your doctor made a mistake and you have some new or worsened injury because of that mistake. The law gets a little complicated here; the doctor has to have acted differently than a reasonable doctor would have acted under the same or similar circumstances. In other words if any doctor would have done the same thing that your doctor did, even if you were hurt, you probably aren’t going to win your case.
The second option is a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This is more or less your typical medical malpractice case against the doctor and hospital. In this type of claim, you will need to prove that your injury was caused by a VA employee’s “negligent or wrongful act or omission … while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable … in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.”
Finally, it is important to mention that you don’t have to pick between the two options. You can pursue both a 1151 and FTCA claim. If you are thinking about presenting either type of claim, you’ll definitely want to have an attorney help you with your claim. Good luck!