A court ruling by the United States Supreme Court on April 22 has opened a door that will make it easier for individuals to bring cases against the federal government for negligence. The court justices ruled in a voting of 5 to 4 in two separate cases that the deadline for individuals who wished to bring lawsuits against the federal government could legally be extended if the plaintiffs filing the lawsuits could prove that they had failed to learn important information before the deadline for filing, or that the individual bringing the lawsuit had made their best attempt to comply before the deadline arrived.
This decision could potentially affect military veterans who have claims of medical malpractice. The decision to extend deadlines came after a number of veterans groups reportedly provided briefs to support the case. The briefs suggested a warning that if there was a strict interpretation held to support exact deadlines, it could potentially harm veterans who were attempting to file medical malpractice or other type of negligence cases against the government. The Paralyzed Veterans of America along with the other veteran groups reportedly even stated in one of the briefs submitted that one of the reasons veterans would unknowingly miss deadlines for filing claims against the government was due to the fact that the Department of Veteran Affairs had created such a confusing claim process.
While the Obama administration argued in court that Congress had created the deadlines to ensure that the government was not left open to claims being filed against them indefinitely, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wrote that Congress had not clearly indicated that it wished for those types of deadlines to be considered iron-clad when they initially passed the Federal Torts Claims Act. She stated that judges should have discretion to extend those types of deadlines.
Individuals who believe they ave been the victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to compensation and could find it beneficial to learn more about their valuable legal rights.
Source: New York Law Journal, “Ruling Says Deadlines for Suing U.S. Can Be Extended,” Mark Sherman, April. 23, 2015