Military Vets to Get New Legal Guidance for Medical Malpractice Claims

A newly signed law that just passed the first week of 2021 will make it easier for United States Armed Forces veterans to file certain medical malpractice claims. The Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act included a provision that requires Veterans Affairs (VA) to give introductory legal advice to military veterans who file a medical malpractice claim against a VA-integrated hospital or clinic. Such medical institutions must also provide a claimant with information regarding the employment of any practitioners involved.

Why the Change of Policy?

The titular case of the act regards Marine Corps veteran Brian Tally and his medical malpractice lawsuit against the Loma Linda Veterans Affairs Medical Center. In 2015, he went to the hospital with severe back pain but was only diagnosed with a back sprain, which was answered with a relatively weak painkiller prescription. Doctors did not conduct any diagnostic tests during this initial check-up.

Weeks later and still in pain, Tally paid out-of-pocket to see another doctor who was not associated with VA. This doctor conducted several diagnostic tests and discovered that a staph infection was slowly destroying Tally’s spine. Because the infection went so long without being treated, Tally has suffered walking disabilities, bladder fail, and depression.

He attempted to sue the hospital for malpractice but was not informed by VA until a full year into the lawsuit that the doctor who saw him was not part of the staff but instead was an independent contractor. This lapse of information caused him to miss the medical malpractice statute of limitations entirely, forever preventing him from seeking compensation from that doctor.

What Does the Policy Update in Particular?

With the newly signed bill, VA officials will have to be upfront with injured veterans about their options for filing a medical malpractice claim. Previously, veterans would often be instructed that VA could not comment on legal matters involving one of its medical staff members or clinics, resulting in many not even knowing that they might be able to get compensation through a claim or lawsuit. Although, the legal advice now to be provided by VA is rudimentary at best, and it is still advised that injured veterans seek private counsel for most claims.

The change also requires VA to tell a claimant about the defendant’s employment status within 30 days of receiving a complaint or lawsuit. This expedited notification rule should help prevent any major lapses in time, such as what happened with Tally.

Despite the seemingly lenient requirements imposed by the Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act, Veterans Affairs has argued against it since its inception. A VA spokesperson has said that the act is making more work for its busy staff and that its solutions are largely unnecessary.

(You can learn more about this VA legal update by clicking here and viewing a full article from MilitaryTimes.)

Proud to Stand with Our Troops

Golomb Legal, P.C. in Philadelphia wants to send sincere thanks to the brave people of the United States Armed Forces. You do so much for our country. It would be an honor to be able to do something for you in return by offering our award-winning legal counsel to you.

If you ever need help with a medical malpractice claim and you don’t know where to start, please remember that you have steadfast allies here at our law firm. Just call (215) 278-4449">(215) 278-4449 or contact us online the moment you require legal assistance beyond what VA will tell you. Military service members and veterans get free initial consultations!