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Cap on malpractice damages affecting California veterans

The men and women who serve our country work hard to protect the people who live here. Therefore, the people who serve them - such as medical staff - should ensure they are taken care of when they fall ill or injured. Many veterans seek the care of a veterans' affairs hospital in San Diego or elsewhere. A medical mistake can have serious consequences for veterans who already face medical issues. Unfortunately, veterans file medical malpractice claims all too often, and claims caps are keeping many from getting what they deserve.

Four years ago, an Army specialist checked into a VA hospital with dehydration, which, according to his family's attorney, is a very treatable condition. However, when doctors attempted to insert a catheter, they mistakenly placed it all the way into his heart, which ended up being a fatal mistake.

When his family sued the VA, they ended up settling for $145,000. Compare that to a $17.5 million lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs after a gunnery sergeant suffered a stroke and brain injury after doctors pursued a procedure despite noting the patient had low blood pressure.

The difference? Twenty-one states have a pre-determined cap on medical malpractice claims. If you file in one state, you may get millions; but incurring an injury or extended illness in another state could garner far less.

California is one of the states that issue a $250,000 limit on damages such as pain and suffering. What's more, since 2003, the VA has either settled or lost more than 4,400 medical malpractice cases, costing taxpayers more than $844 million. It is important that no matter where someone lives, they should file a claim to get the compensation they deserve for their additional medical expenses and other damages. The right legal professionals can help pursue justice and secure the funding a victim - or family - needs.

Source: KTVU, "2 Investigates: VA malpractice suits shorting California Vets," Ken Pritchett, Nov. 11, 2013

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