EXPAINING THE "FERES DOCTRINE" & THE FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT (FTCA)
Simply Put, the "Feres Doctrine" only applies to "Active-Duty" Men and Women of the U.S. Armed Forces who suffer "injury" or "death" due to the "negligence" of other Members of the Armed Forces.
Lets say you are on Active-Duty stationed in Germany and you go back to your hometown on leave for 30-days. While on leave you decide to go to a Military Base PX near your hometown to buy cigarettes and other items. While you are on Base an Army Truck hits your car and you are severely injured and they have to amputate your leg and you re Medically Discharged from Service...
Then after the Army investigates the accident they find that that the driver of the Army Truck was the one who was "negligent" in causing the accident. Pursuant to the "Feres Doctrine" you could not sue the Army or the U.S. Goverment because your injuries were"incident to Service." However, you could file for Service-Connected Disability Compensation and would more likely than not be Granted a "disability rating" of somewhere between 50%-100%.
Even if you were not on a Military Base and the same Army Truck hit your civilian vehicle on a Civilian Public Highway and caused the same personal injuries to you, the the "Feres Doctrine" still prevents you from suing the Army or the U.S. Government because even though you were on leave, you were still on Active-Duty in the Military and therefore this accident would still be considered "incident to service." Once again, your only recourse would be to file for Service-Connected Disabiity Compensation.
Using the same scenario in Examples #1 and #2, if you were a Veteran separated or discharged from Service or a non-Veteran and you were injured by the same Army Truck on the Military Base or the Public Highway, you are deemed to be a "Civilian" and therefore, the U.S. Government would permit you to file an "Administrative" Federal Tort Claim against the U.S. Army throught its General Counsel Office. If within 6-months of your filing your claim the Army "denied" it, you could then either file for "reconsideration" of your claim with the Army General Counsel Office, or within 6-months after your claim was "denied," file a Federal Tort Claim with the Federal District Court nearest your home.
YOUR TORT CLAIM TRIAL IN FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT
If the General Counsel Office of the U.S. Government Agency with whom you file your "Admiistrative" Federal Tort Claim denies your claim as discussed above and you decide to file in Federal District Court, the VA will not be the Defendant, the DEFENDANT WILL BE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,and YOU will be the PLAINTIFF.
Another "Myth" associated with the Federal Tort Claims Act is that some people think that when they file their Federal Tort Claim in a Federal District Court that it is not the "REGULAR" Federal District Court that they are filing their claim. In fact, it is the same Federal District Court that all claims are filed when they are within the Jurisdiction of the Court. The only difference is that in a Federal Tort Claim you cannot demand that a Jury hear your Case at Trial. Only one or more Federal Court Judges or a Federal Magistrate Judge can hear your Case.
And based on the last statistics I read about 3-years ago, the Federal Judges find in Favor of the Plaintiffs about 50% of the time with awards of up to $10 Million Dollars... These statistics do not include "Settlement Agreements" prior to Trial between the Plaintiff and the Defendant (which is the United States of America). So once you get up to the Federal Court System, you have an excellent chance of being receiving Monetary Damages either by the or in a Pre-Trial Settlement with the Government.
I sued the VA(U.S. Gov't) for "Negligence" in Federal District Court several years ago and received a Pre-Trial Setltlement from the Government. So I can tell you "first-hand" that the Judges and the System is very fair and reputable in the Federal District Court System.
Conversely, if you are a Veterans Out-Patient or In-Patient, or workig under the CWT Program (Compensated Work Therapy), or participating in Vocational Rehabilitation and you are injured due to "Negligence" by VA Employees, you cannot only file a Federal Tort Claim, you can also simultaneous and separately file a "Section 1151 Service-Connected Disability Compensation Claim for your injuries caused by VA Negligence or Malpractice. In the case of Veterans Death under this scenario, the Veterans surviving Dependents can file a Federal Tort Claim and may also be elegible for DIC (Dependent Indemnity Compensation).
ALL PARTIES SHOULD DULY NOTE THAT all Federal Tort Claims must be filed within 2-years of the time you become aware of the injury or disease. However, the 2-year period also means that if the injury or disease does not manifest it self for 3 or 4 years for you to recognize that you have a serious injury or disease, then you would have 2-years from that time to file your Tort Claim.
ALL PARTIES SHOULD DULY NOTE THAT there is "NO TIME LIMIT" to file Section 1151 Claims.
If you would like further information explaining Federal Tort Claims and Section 1151 Claims, please E-mail me and I will E-mail you a copy of the Articles I wrote on those subjects or direct you to where my Aritcle may be located on the Interent.
For further information of the "Feres Doctrine" just click onto the URL set forth below...
TERRY RICHARDS, Vietnam
Era Veteran Retired-Disabled. Veterans Advocate since 1990.
Former Volunteer Managing Editor of The "Veterans Free Press" Newspaper
Media Relations Contact Volunteer, http://www.veteransparty.us/