VA Lawsuit Process
UPDATED: February 20, 2013
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There are generally three phases involved in a veteran's malpractice case against the VA – the investigation phase, the administrative claims phase and the litigation and resolution phase. To explain the litigation and resolution phase, we asked an expert – Joe Callahan, a Virginia attorney and retired naval officer who represents injured veterans and military dependants in medical malpractice claims against the Veterans’ Administration.
Litigation / resolution phase
The final phase of any claim is litigation, and ultimately, resolution. Callahan says that roughly two thirds of the claims he files are resolved through administrative settlements with the VA and/or Justice Department. However, he added, “[A]t any given time after the passing of six months from the date of filing a claim with the VA, a veteran has the right to conclude that the VA is taking too long and demand that their claim be put into litigation. Still, if the VA indicates that the claim is one which they are likely to pay, it is often much faster and more productive to give the VA additional time to reach an administrative decision.”
Callahan says that his firm has a long and successful track record of working amicably with VA attorneys across the country. “Our expertise in medical malpractice cases (which represents over 95% of our firm’s case load) and our reputation for expertise within the VA itself helps us move case through the VA’s administrative process as quickly and successfully as possible.”
Settlements take time
Although Callahan says that the wide majority of claims which he files in litigation are settled without the need for trial, he warned that nothing comes easily or quickly when dealing with the government, and that includes bringing cases to court. He explained, “I would say for every case that we actually put into litigation by filing suit against the United States, we settle five during the administrative phase. So, the wide majority of cases that we undertake to prosecute on behalf of veterans are settled administratively without the injured veteran having to undertake the additional delays, expense and risk of filing suit.”