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Can You Sue the Military for Negligence? Understanding Your Rights

By joining the military, you’ve dedicated your life to serving your country. However, there may be situations where you or your loved ones experience harm or damage due to the negligence of the military or its personnel. In such cases, you might wonder whether holding the military accountable through legal means is possible. This blog post addresses common questions about suing the military for negligence, providing valuable insights and guidance to help you understand your rights and options.

What is Negligence in the Army? 

As in any other context, negligence in the military refers to the failure of duty or care owed to someone, resulting in foreseeable harm or damage. In the military, negligence can occur in various scenarios, such as during training exercises, military operations, or medical treatment. For example, if a commanding officer fails to provide proper training to soldiers, leading to avoidable accidents, it may be considered negligence.

Can You Sue the US Military for Negligence? 

The ability to sue the US military for negligence is subject to specific legal limitations. Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the government, including the military, generally enjoys protection from civil lawsuits. However, the Federal Tort Claims Act does let people file lawsuits against the US government, including the military, for injuries or damages caused by the negligence of government employees.

To successfully sue the military for negligence under the FTCA, the following criteria must be met:

The injury or harm must have been caused by the negligent act of a military employee acting within their official duties.

The incident must have occurred within the United States or its territories.

The injured party must have exhausted administrative remedies by filing a claim with the appropriate military branch within the specified timeframes.

It is important to note that while the FTCA allows you to sue the military for negligence, there are exceptions and limitations to the scope of claims. For example, claims arising from combat activities or certain medical malpractice incidents may be exempt from FTCA coverage. For example, the Feres Doctrine medical malpractice doctrine prevents members of the armed forces who are injured while on active duty from successfully suing the federal government.

The Military Claims Act is a federal law that allows people to seek compensation from the United States government for personal injury, property damage, or death caused by military personnel’s negligence. The MCA provides a process for individuals to file administrative claims against the government before pursuing a civil lawsuit.

Under the MCA, individuals, including military members and civilians, have the right to file a claim for damages resulting from incidents such as vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, property damage caused by military operations, and personal injuries on military bases.

It is important to note that the MCA has specific limitations and exceptions. For instance, claims arising from combat activities, incidents of intentional misconduct, and injuries to service members on active duty may not be covered under the MCA. You also cannot file a class action lawsuit against the military under the MCA.

When filing a claim under the Military Claims Act, it is crucial to adhere to the required procedures and timelines. The claim must be submitted to the appropriate military branch within two years from the date of the incident causing the injury or damage. If the claim is denied or not resolved to the claimant’s satisfaction, they may have the option to pursue a civil lawsuit in federal court.

How Do You Sue the Military? 

Suing the military for negligence involves navigating a complex legal process. As a first step, you must file an administrative claim with the relevant military branch under the FTCA. This claim should outline the details of the negligent act, the injuries or damages suffered, and the amount of compensation sought. The military will review the claim and determine whether to accept or deny it.

If the military denies the claim or does not respond within the specified timeframe, you can proceed to file a civil lawsuit in federal court. It is crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney specializing in military law to ensure you follow the correct procedures and present a strong case.

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Suing the Military? 

Yes, there is a statute of limitations when it comes to suing the military for negligence under the FTCA. Generally, you must file your administrative claim within two years from the date of the negligent act or omission that caused the injury or damage. Failure to meet this deadline may result in the claim being time-barred, and you may lose the opportunity to pursue legal action.

While suing the military for negligence is not a straightforward process, it is possible under the FTCA in specific circumstances. Understanding your rights and the legal requirements is crucial in pursuing a claim successfully. If you or your loved ones have experienced harm or damages due to military negligence, seeking the advice of a knowledgeable attorney specializing in military law is essential to navigate the complexities of the legal system and protect your interests.


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