The Federal Tort Claims Act provides a mechanism to bring a claim for personal injury against the government for the negligent failure to appropriately treat veterans and their dependents. The FTCA requires filing an Administrative Tort Claim with the Agency (Department of Veterans Affairs), substantiating the Claim’s contentions of breach in the standard of medical care and, and how that breach caused or was a substantial factor in causing the injury and damages. The Agency has six months from the date of filing the Claim in which to make a determination. Usually, the time period is longer than this, with the agreement of both parties, but no legal action is allowed until the six month minimum period for agency review has passed. Please understand that there is a limited period of time for a claimant to pursue a Federal Tort Claim action with the United States (e.g. the VA). The statute of limitations for pursuing a medical negligence Federal Tort Claim is only two years from when you knew or should have known of the negligence, and for a Federal Tort Claim for Wrongful Death, two years from the date of death.
All of the individuals injured as a result of government negligence are entitled to file a Federal Tort Claim for injuries related to the veteran, including spouses. There may be compensation and pension claims pending with the VA pertaining to your medical care in addition to the potential Federal Tort Claims. These are different from Federal Tort Claims, and filing a claim for compensation or pension will not suspend or toll the FTCA statute. The sooner you can evaluate and explore the issues, the more options you potentially have available.
Other concerns about any other issue (compensation and pension, private medical care, social security, products liability, et cetera), or if treating doctors were independent contractors and not US governmental employees, need to also be evaluated right away. While our office only handles actions under the Federal Tort Claims Act and Military Claims Act, these other claims may have different and/or shorter time limitations.