If you served in the military and developed an injury or illness as a result of your service, you can apply for disability benefits through the VA. Nearly two million veterans took advantage of filing for disability and other VA benefits in 2022 alone, and millions of veterans receive such benefits each year.
Veterans have more interactions with the VA than just when applying for benefits, however. You and your family might receive medical treatment from a hospital or clinic operated by the VA as well. If one of these facilities or their providers causes you injuries, you might be entitled to benefits as well. The process for obtaining them, though, is different than applying for disability benefits.
VA Tort Claims and How They Differ from Disability Claims
A VA tort claim is the legal mechanism through which you or a loved one can pursue benefits for injuries or losses you sustain as a result of care and treatment received at a VA facility. These claims differ from a VA disability claim in several important ways:
- You Must Prove Negligence
The greatest difference between the two types of claims is that you are not guaranteed any benefits through a VA tort claim just because you are a service member or sustained an injury. Instead, a VA tort claim requires you to show that the VA and its personnel acted in a careless manner toward you.
Carelessness in this context requires proof that you received objectively deficient and substandard care. The level of care you received was so unreasonable that no other similar medical provider would have given you this kind of care.
- You Have a Limited Time to File
In the case of VA disability benefits, you can file for benefits even if it has been years since you last wore the uniform. The date you file your claim would only impact the start date of your benefits. However, a VA tort claim is filed under the Federal Tort Claim Act, which only gives you two years from the date of your injury to file your claim.
Suppose you are hurt by a doctor’s malpractice on January 1, 2024. You would need to file your VA tort claim by January 1, 2026, or risk losing out on your right to seek any compensation for your malpractice-related injuries.
Get Experienced Help for the Issues You Face
Filing the wrong type of claim, or failing to file the right type of claim when needed, can have a significant impact on you finances and ability to recover. Your San Francisco veterans law attorney at Unruh Law is familiar with both types of claims and knows both when and how to pursue each type of compensation and benefits for clients.
If you have a question about your rights as a veteran, Unruh Law is the place to call. You can reach us at (833) 753-5168 or by contacting us online.