If you have been injured by the actions of the Veterans Administration (VA), you may wonder about your options. One course of action that may be available to you is to sue the VA. In order to do this, you must be aware of certain procedures or you may lose your right to sue. Because the VA is part of the federal government you must follow the steps outlined for suing the federal government:
- Statute of Limitations: In order to sue the federal government, you must file an administrative claim within 2 years from the time you knew you were injured. This may seem like a lot of time, but it is not. If you miss this deadline, you will lose your right to sue.
- Filing Form 95: In order to sue the VA, you must file an administrative claim before suing in federal court. Form 95 requires details regarding the cause for the lawsuit and the amount of compensation you desire. If you fill out Form 95 inappropriately or incompletely, you may lose the right to sue.
- Wait Six Months: The VA has up to 6 months to review your claim and determine to attempt settlement of your claim. If it desires to settle, it will contact you (or your attorney if you have one) and will likely try to negotiate a settlement. Make sure to have all your paperwork organized to support the dollar amount you claimed on Form 95.
- Lawsuit in Federal Court: If the VA decides not to settle, you will then need to bring a lawsuit in federal court within 2 years from the time you knew you were injured. This is the expensive part. If you are suing for medical malpractice in Arizona, you have to be prepared to file an affidavit of a doctor along with your suit. The doctor can cost anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 for his review of your records and his corresponding affidavit.
- Discovery: Prior to trial, there is a period of time to conduct what attorneys refer to as “discovery.” This is where both sides request information from each other. Throughout discovery you can expect to be requested to undergo a deposition, supply documents, and answer written questions from the opposing party. If you fail to do these things, you will be held in contempt and your lawsuit may eventually be dismissed. Discovery will also likely lead to the opposing party deposing your expert witness doctor, which will cost you additional money for the doctor’s time.
- Trial: If the case does not settle through Discovery, then you will get your day in court. This is most likely at least a year or more after you filed a lawsuit.
Although the steps above may seem daunting, an experienced attorney can walk you through this process so that you can preserve your rights and receive compensation for your injuries caused by the VA. If you have questions about your potential claim, please call to set up an appointment.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Timothy F. Coons at 480.461.5370, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area.