In federal court, to win a military medical malpractice or VA medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove that the government health care providers acted negligently. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must establish that the military medical providers breached the standard of care, and that breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
In every lawsuit, our firm relies on the knowledge, skill, and qualifications of a team of experts. These experts from around the United States are top physicians, researchers, and professors in their respective fields. In federal court, experts submit a report explaining their opinions to the court. If the case goes to trial, the experts may testify about their opinions in further detail before the judge. The following is a brief explanation of the different ways in which a team of experts help us prove each element of a Federal Tort Claim in a lawsuit based on medical malpractice against a military or VA hospital.
Duty/Breach: VA and military doctors have a duty to provide patients with the type of care a reasonable physician would provide in the same or similar circumstances. To win a military medical malpractice lawsuit or VA medical malpractice lawsuit, a plaintiff must bring a medical expert to testify about what the standard of care requires. These experts not only outline what a physician should do in a certain situation, but they also explain why the defendant’s actions were not those of a reasonable physician, i.e. they explain how the defendant’s actions amount to a breach of duty. The type of expert used to prove medical malpractice varies from case to case, but usually comes from same specialty as the health care provider who caused the harm. For example, in a birth injury case resulting in brain injury to a baby, usually an obstetrician will establish the standard of care.
Causation: To win an FTCA medical malpractice suit, it is not enough to prove that the military or VA health care providers breached their duty and than an injury to the plaintiff occurred. We must also prove that the staff’s breach of duty, and not some other intervening factor, was the primary cause of the injury. To help prove the causation element of negligence, our firm has relied upon a number of medical specialists depending on the facts of the case, including obstetricians, neonatologists, maternal-fetal specialists, neurologists, radiologists, neuroradiologists, infectious disease specialists, pathologists, geneticists, and neuropsychologists.
Damages: There are two types of legal damages in any military medical malpractice or VA medical malpractice suit: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are monies awarded to compensate a plaintiff for the monetary losses suffered as a result of the injury, such as lost wages and lost earning capacity. To calculate a plaintiff’s lost earning capacity, our firm often uses the expertise of Economists, Rehabilitation Experts, and Vocational Experts. One of the most important economic damages in any case is the element of past and future medical and attendant care expenses. To project future medical and attendant care needs, our firm utilizes health care providers experienced in creating a Life Care Plan, a report that projects what future treatment, surgery, therapy, equipment, medications, or assistance will be needed as a result of the injury. Non-economic damages include physical pain and mental anguish and suffering, loss of consortium (damage to the spousal relationship or parent-child relationship as a result of plaintiff’s injury), physical impairment and physical disfigurement. Medical experts such as neuropsychologists, neurologists, and physical medicine/rehabilitation specialists can help establish the degree of physical pain or impairment suffered by a plaintiff. But often the best evidence of “non-economic damages” comes from the injured person and/or their loved ones.
Each case presents a unique set of challenges to overcome to succeed. In federal court, the right experts are key to winning a medical negligence case. Choosing a law firm that is experienced in handling a variety of military and VA medical malpractice and wrongful death cases will give you the best chance of recovery in the complex federal tort claims system.