Federal Tort Claims Act

Federal Tort Claims Act

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When a veteran feels that he has been injured as a result of VA care, there are two ways for him to seek a remedy.  The first route is to file a claim for a Section 1151 benefit based on VA negligence.  The second option exists outside the VA adjudication process – the veteran can file suit against the VA under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).  A veteran can file both claims, and recover under both.  However, VA benefits will be withheld until the entire amount of the FTCA judgment has been offset.

Under the FTCA, individuals can file suit against the federal government alleging some kind of governmental injury or negligence.  Unlike 1151 claims and other VA-specific claims for benefits which go through the VA’s separate adjudication process, FTCA claims will go through a U.S. District Court.  An FTCA claim against the VA/federal government operates in the same manner as other civil claims – if negligence or intentional injury is proven against the VA, the court will determine an appropriate amount of monetary damages due to the winning plaintiff veteran.  Unlike VA benefits, these damages will be paid out in a lump sum.  While regular VA claims are appealed through the Board of Veterans Appeals and other VA-specific avenues, FTCA claims are appealed directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

While the possibility of a lump sum payment from the VA may sound enticing, FTCA claims are generally more difficult to prove than VA benefits.  The FTCA has a higher standard of proof – “the preponderance of the evidence” – as opposed to the “at least as likely as not” burden for VA benefits which favors the veteran.  However, there are some situations where a veteran may have a valid FTCA claim where a Section 1151 claim cannot be brought – such as injury due to the act of a VA employee not directly involved in providing the veteran’s healthcare or treatment.

Unlike claims for VA benefits (such as Section 1151) which can be filed at any time, there are limitations as to how long a claimant has to file a FTCA suit.  Veterans or their representatives who pursue FTCA claims must be aware of the specific filing rules in the statute of limitations.

Are You A Veteran Looking To File A Claim? Bluestein Attorneys is Here to Help!

If you feel that you have been injured by a government agency, you may be able to find help under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and Bluestein Attorneys is here to help. Our SC Veterans’ Advocates team is made up of attorneys who have served in the military themselves and so understand the unique strain and pressures of serving. Reach us by phone at (803) 779-7599 or contact us online to request your FREE consultation today!

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