The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) provides a broad waiver of sovereign immunity, effectively giving people the opportunity to pursue some tort – or personal injury – claims against the U.S. government (and its agents).
Knowing just when medical professionals are covered by the FTCA can be unclear. It is, nevertheless, crucial to figuring out when a potential case falls under the FTCA.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the FTCA and how it can impact medical malpractice cases. This discussion is a simplified overview of a more in-depth piece that Hassakis & Hassakis’ own Attorney Josh A. Humbrecht wrote for Tort Law (April 2015, Vol. 50, No. 4).
FTCA Definition of Employees: What Medical Professionals Are Covered?
According to the terms of the FTCA, an “employee of the government” includes:
- Officers or employees of any federal agency
- Members of the military or naval forces of the U.S.
- Members of the National Guard (who are in training and/or on duty)
- Persons acting on behalf of a federal agency (regardless of whether these people are compensated for their actions)
- Any officer or employee of a Federal public defender organization.
Medical professionals can typically be considered to be federal employees when they work for eligible health centers. Generally, medical entities will become deemed facilities by applying for this status via the Department of Health & Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC).
As of April 2015, there were 956 deemed Health Centers covering more than 15,000 medical professionals.
Expansion of FTCA Coverage
Coverage under the FTCA has been expanding for some time, with this broad coverage being extended to:
- Volunteer health professionals at free clinics
- Board members, officers and contractors of qualifying clinics
- Certain non-health centers, including school-based clinics, health fairs, homeless outreach and hospital-related activities.
Given the incentives that smaller facilities have to be covered by the FTCA, foreseeably, more entities will be covered in the coming years, and this may trigger a sharp increase the number of medical malpractice cases covered by the FTCA.
FTCA & Medical Malpractice Lawsuits: More Important Info
- When medical malpractice lawsuits are filed in state courts against those (professionals and/or entities) who are covered by the FTCA, these cases will be transferred to the federal court system.
- Although such case transfers can lead to dismissals (for failure to exhaust administrative remedies) and/or to running out the statute of limitations, there may still be options for keeping the claim in play. Namely, filing a SF-95 with the appropriate agency can be a viable option.
- If a suit is filed after two years after the incident in question and it becomes clear, after filing the case, that the defendant is covered by the FTCA, there will typically be no basis to keep the federal defendant.
Mount Vernon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at the Law Firm of Hassakis & Hassakis, P.C.
Have you or a loved one been hurt by any type of medical negligence? If so, the experienced and trusted Mount Vernon medical malpractice lawyers at the Law Firm of Hassakis & Hassakis, P.C. are ready to stand up for your rights.
Since 1950, we have been providing the highest quality legal services and representation to our clients. Our trusted attorneys focus on our clients’ needs, we are passionate about our clients, and we do everything we can to help them obtain the maximum possible compensation so they can focus on their recovery and moving on with their life.
If you are ready to learn more about your best legal options and how we can help you, contact us by calling (888) 896-9381 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the page. We can provide you with a free, thorough assessment of your case, along with professional advice regarding the best manner in which to move forward.