The Process

Take the first steps.


Step One: Demand Accountability

The first step in the process is filing a demand for veterans health benefits providers to answer for the mistreatment you received.

As we’ve discussed, this demand must be filed within the two-year statute of limitations. Great diligence must be observed to consider all of your injuries to ensure this demand will cover costs you might incur throughout your life. You only get one opportunity to receive compensation through a claim.

So you know…

Once you file your demand, the damages sought will typically serve as a cap on the amount you can claim and recover through the process.

Upon submitting your demand, three events typically follow within six months:

  1. Agency Accepts Your Demand: If the agency accepts your demand, you will be paid accordingly to the amount you claimed and you will not need to file your claim in federal court.
  2. Agency Rejects Your Demand: If the agency rejects your demand, you will have a specified amount of time to file your claim in federal court.
  3. Agency Does Not Respond to Your Demand: If the agency does not respond to your demand within six months, your demand is considered rejected and you will have a certain period of time to file your claim in court.


Step Two. Taking Court Action

When the agency refuses to take responsibility through your demand, you must then file your action in federal court and proceed to trial.

A court action has several stages:

I. Pleadings

During this stage, the plaintiff files legal documents with the court stating the facts of alleged negligence. The government then has the opportunity to respond to the allegations. There are specific requirements that you must allege. Failure to properly state the required facts can lead to a case being delayed or dismissed.

The pleadings stage requires that you state what you intend to prove at trial and what the government will claim as their defense.

II. Discovery

This stage is similar to an investigation of the facts of your case. Using a variety of tools at their disposal, parties discover important facts to prove a case:

  • Interrogatories
  • Requests for Production
  • Depositions
  • Independent Medical Examinations

Through interrogatories and requests for production, both sides discover relevant documents and seek disclosure of key facts. Also, each party conducts depositions, or legal interviews that seek to elicit information to help prove a case at trial. Claimants may also undergo a medical examination ordered by the defense. On behalf of the defense, a doctor may conduct a medical examination and could testify at trial as to the results of the exam.

If a party refuses to produce documents or persons with facts relevant to proving the case does not cooperate, a lawyer can file a motion to compel, asking the court to force a person or document to be produced.

The discovery process will uncover the facts that claimants rely on during the trial.

III. Trial

A judge, not a jury will hear testimony, review the evidence and decide the case. The trial process includes opening statements, the introduction of evidence through exhibits and witness testimony, including medical experts and closing arguments.

An opening statement will provide a roadmap of what facts a party intends to present through witness testimony. After opening statements from both sides, parties will use witness testimony to provide facts and prove or disprove the case. Finally, closing arguments are used to argue what the facts mean and how the judge should decide.

The judge will then consider the evidence and rule on the facts. The parties can appeal the judge’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.