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Members of the military have redress for medical malpractice

A new year has arrived and with it are new laws that went into effect at midnight on January 1, 2020. One such law, the National Defense Authorization Act, allows members of the military in Maryland, and around the country, to file limited medical malpractice claims for death or medical injury that may have been caused by military medical staffs in military hospitals. The legislation does not allow for claims for injuries suffered while in a war zone.

In addition, members of the military may not file suit for medical malpractice in federal court. The claims must be handled administratively within the military. A successful claim for an amount of less than $100,000 may be paid by the Department of Defense directly to the injured member of the military or a survivor. Claims greater than $100,000 will be reviewed by the Treasury Department.

This law could make a significant difference to the lives of many wounded service members. It also offers some solace to families who may have lost loved ones due to medical errors. While the new law stipulates that a person has two years two file a claim, the law is allowing those suffering an injury or loss in 2017 to file a claim in 2020.

The new law is not perfect and has limits regarding medical malpractice. With the inability to sue in federal court, there is little avenue for appeal if a claimant disagrees with a decision. In addition, this is a new area for the Department of Defense as they have not previously dealt with such cases. A person considering a claim in Maryland may wish to consult an attorney familiar with the new law before proceeding with a claim.

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