Hiring Private Contractors Lets VA Deny Claims under Federal Tort Claims Act

If you are a U.S. military veteran seeking medical treatment from a VA hospital, make sure you know exactly who is treating you. Does your doctor work for the VA? Or is he or she a private contractor working for the VA? The reason it matters is if something goes wrong with your treatment and you need to file a military medical malpractice claim, the amount of time you have to do so can vary greatly.

The case of Brian Tally of Temecula, California

Two years ago, Brian Tally, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, was running a successful landscaping business and taking care of his wife and 4 kids. Today, he is living with pain, disability, and screws in his spine because of medical malpractice. And, unfairly, he received no compensation for the misdiagnosis that led to his condition.

When Tally suffered excruciating back pain in early 2016, his wife drove him to the local VA hospital. There, the doctor took some x-rays and prescribed him pain medication. Yet Tally’s condition persisted and so he visited his primary care physician at the VA Clinic in Murrieta. There, his doctor agreed with the previous diagnosis of the other VA doctor that he had a low-back sprain which would heal in a matter of weeks.

Unconvinced, Tally would eventually pay out of pocket for an MRI and blood test that would reveal his condition was much more serious and required immediate surgery. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with a bone eating staph infection, not lower-back pain. The previous VA doctors misdiagnosed the veteran’s condition which resulted in delayed treatment. Tally filed a medical malpractice claim and things seemed hopeful. Then, he received a letter from the VA denying his tort claim.

Statute of limitations

Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the statute of limitations for filing a malpractice claim against the VA is two years. Tally believed he had two years to file his claim for compensation. However, it was never disclosed to Brian Tally that the doctor responsible for his misdiagnosis was a private contractor. This meant that any medical malpractice claim he wanted to file was subject to California’s statute of limitations, which unfortunately was only 1 year.

Currently, Tally is working alongside Congressman Duncan Hunter’s office to draft legislation requiring the VA to notify veterans if they are treated by a private contractor.

Our sympathetic legal team provides veterans with skilled counsel

At the Bertling Law Group, we take great pride in supporting veterans. Experienced and compassionate, we guide you through each step of the legal process. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim, contact us at 844-295-7558.