Legislation Seeks to Provide Military Access to Justice

Legislation Seeks to Provide Military Access to Justice

When you go to the doctor, whether for surgery, to seek treatment for a health condition, a routine follow-up, or for prenatal care and the delivery of a child, you expect your health care providers to act within a certain standard of care.  When a failure to meet that standard leads to harm, in general it may be possible to file a claim for medical negligence.  However, if you are a member of the military and were treated at a military medical facility, you may be unable to recover damages.

As it stands, a 50+ year-old doctrine – the Feres Doctrine – prohibits active military personnel from suing the federal government for harm caused by negligent medical care, even if such care leads to catastrophic harm, death, or leaves a child with a life-long birth injury. 

The theory behind the doctrine prevents military personnel for filing suit for harm incurred while serving the country.  Despite the laudable intention, the effect of the doctrine has been to deprive those seriously injured and their families redress for negligent medical conduct.  A child born with brain damage due to labor and delivery complications is generally barred from recovery if their mother was a service member and went to a military facility to give birth. 

A U.S. Senator, Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, has introduced an amendment to change this, and similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California.  The amendment would allow troops to sue for medical negligence, except in limited cases including active combat. 

As California birth injury attorneys, we support legislation aimed at improving access to justice.  We will be following efforts to provide relief to members of the military harmed by medical malpractice in the legislature and judicial closely.

For more information or if you believe you or a loved one has suffered harm due to medical malpractice, please contact the dedicated California birth injury lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.

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