How do I file a claim against a Veterans Administration Hospital?

There are special requirements for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Veterans Administration Hospital.  If you aren't careful, you will lose your rights.

First, the basics.  VA Hospitals are operated by the United States of America, which means that a claim against a Veterans Administration Hospital is reallly a claim against the USA.  Personal injury claims against the United States are brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a federal law that requires that you file a notice of claim (known as the Standard Form 95) within two years of the date of the alleged malpractice.  If you do not file the Standard Form 95 within two years of the malpractice, you lose your rights to sue the United States.

After the Standard Form 95 has been filed with the appropriate federal agency, the USA has six months to either accept or deny your claim.  The federal government is entitled to a "hearing" where an Assistant US Attorney meets with you and your attorney in an informal setting, usually in a federal office building, to discuss the claim and the injuries.  These "hearings" are usually a total waste of time.

When the federal government denies your claim, you then have the right to file a lawsuit in federal court under the Federal Tort Claims Act.  If the federal government does not reject or accept your claim, you have the right to file a lawsuit after six months have passed from the filing of the Standard Form 95.

Because federal law is involved, state courts do not have jurisdiction over cases brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act.  As part of your lawsuit, you must allege in your complaint that you complied with the federal law requiring the filing of a Standard Form 95 and that the United States rejected your claim.

Although the filing of a notice of claim and the statutory six month waiting period after the filing of such a claim were designed to settle cases, this rarely happens.  Keep in mind that the sooner you file the Standard Form 95 the sooner you can file your lawsuit in federal court.