Expert advice for veterans on successfully suing the VA

Bringing a lawsuit against the federal government can be a particularly challenging legal undertaking. Yet for many veterans, it is a necessity. Fortunately, with the right preparation and legal guidance, it is feasible to sue the government or a government organization.


Do

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  • make sure you’re not in service
  • obtain your medical chart
  • look for counsel with specific experience handling these types of cases
  • save all evidence and document all correspondence
  • make sure your attorney is fully informed
Don't

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  • send out any letters or emails that could backfire later on
  • ignore your social media presence
  • hide any criminal record you may have from your attorney
  • fail to grasp what you’re up against

Jeffrey A. Milman‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do make sure you’re not in service

Under the Feres Doctrine, people who are active duty do not have any rights to bring a claim for negligence committed in a medical setting. Ensuring that you’re in the right classification to mount a lawsuit is the first step any veteran should take.

Do obtain your medical chart

In our current digital climate, it should be fairly easy to get your medical charts, as well as any corroborating evidence such as films and X-rays on a disk. Having your medical charts close at hand is key when you’re considering a medical malpractice or negligence lawsuit under any circumstance, but especially when the defendant is the federal government.

Do look for counsel with specific experience handling these types of cases

Federal Courts have complex filing requirements, so you’re going to need a lawyer who specializes in helping veterans file lawsuits against the government. In order to avoid missing important deadlines that could destroy your lawsuit before it even begins, find an attorney who already understands the complexities of this type of law.

Do save all evidence and document all correspondence

When it comes to building a case, nothing is more important than evidence. This could range from saving pill bottles and photographs to printing out emails and preparing a clear chronology of events, including corroborating artifacts whenever possible. Do your homework and your lawsuit has a much higher likelihood of success.

Do make sure your attorney is fully informed

It’s important to provide your counsel with any documents that tie in with whether you have a disability rating, service or otherwise, even if it’s not relevant to your particular injury. Also, inform your attorney if you have been honorably discharged. To be effective, your legal team needs all of the information, whether it seems pertinent to you or not.


Jeffrey A. Milman‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not send out any letters or emails that could backfire later on

Any contact you make with the defendants or potential defendants – even if you feel you’re justified or you simply made a hasty decision in the heat of the moment – can and will be used against you in court. Don’t sabotage your case this way.

Do not ignore your social media presence

Any photographs, comments, status updates or other digital ephemera posted to your social media websites could damage your case down the line. Take down anything remotely questionable, even if the picture or posting in question is several years old or not directly related to your case.

Do not hide any criminal record you may have from your attorney

If you have a criminal record of any kind, it’s necessary to divulge that information to your counsel immediately. Keep in mind that if you’re bringing a claim against the Veterans Administration, eventually you’ll be suing the United States of America, which means that you’ll be brought before a federal judge rather than receiving a jury trial. Federal judges can be very tough and operate under a strict set of rules, so anything you can do to take the straight and narrow path rather than dealing in evasion or deception is highly recommended.

Do not fail to grasp what you’re up against

You need to understand that your state may put a cap on how much you can receive on your claim, and that filing a claim may affect your future benefits. Suing the federal government is complex and costly, and it’s important to have a meritorious case, as well as excellent counsel and top-notch experts to back you up. Educate yourself so that you’re fully prepared for what lies ahead.


Summary

Bringing a lawsuit against the federal government is never an easy path, but there are steps that can be taken to minimize the hardship. By staying organized, gathering evidence and consulting with experienced attorneys who deal specifically with veterans’ issues, it is possible to successfully sue the government and see that justice is served.

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