Medical malpractice cases may be filed in the federal courts in the United States if there is diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy is greater than $75,000.00, or if the case gives rise to a federal question (which depends upon who provided the medical care at issue and where the medical care was provided).
If the medical care occurred at a Veterans Affairs medical facility or at a domestic military base and the negligent medical provider was a federal employee acting within the course and scope of his/her employment, then the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) would likely apply to the medical malpractice claim, and the medical malpractice case can only be filed in a federal district court where the United States is named as the defendant, following the timely and appropriate presentation of the administrative claim (the agency has six months to investigate the claim and to either accept or deny the claim; if denied, the federal medical malpractice claim must be filed in the federal district court within six months of the agency’s denial of the claim).
In 1992 and 1995, the U.S. Congress extended FTCA coverage to federally-funded health clinics. In 2004, the U.S. Congress further extended FTCA coverage to volunteer health care professionals at some free clinics. One of the major potential pitfalls for medical malpractice claimants and their lawyers is their failure to provide the proper and timely administrative notice required under the FTCA because the federal employment status of the allegedly negligent health care provider and/or the fact that the health clinic received federal funds was unknown.
If there is a possibility that any of the potential medical malpractice defendants is covered under the FTCA, the Standard Form 95 that is required to be filed within two years with the appropriate administrative entity should be filed, even if it does not appear that the FTCA may apply (better safe than sorry — otherwise, it may be too late to proceed under the FTCA when the federal involvement is finally discovered).
An interesting twist is that federally-funded health care clinics must be “deemed” as FTCA-covered clinics, which must be renewed yearly. To determine if a particular health care clinic is “deemed” covered under the FTCA, you can start with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website where you can search for “deemed” facilities during the current year. However, further research will be necessary if the name of the health care provider(s) are not listed because deemed providers may be known by different names.
Further complicating the determination if the FTCA applies to a particular medical malpractice claim is that the particular negligent medical provider at a federally-funded clinic may be an independent contractor and not a federal employee, even if the provider provided the negligent care at a federally-funded clinic.
How often are federal medical malpractice claims successful for the plaintiffs? Only 37% of the 163 medical malpractice cases that were tried in federal courts in the United States in fiscal year 2002 – 2003 were won by the plaintiffs.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries or death as a result of federal medical malpractice, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who is familiar and experienced with federal medical malpractice claims (FTCA claims) who may advise you regarding your medical malpractice claim.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with federal medical malpractice lawyers who may assist you with your federal medical malpractice case.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.