What are the families to do after their loved one has been murdered at the VA hospital by some, as of yet, unknown worker? Why has the VA not released that information to date? What other patients could have had their lives cut short by this same person?
There are so many questions surrounding the news coming from the investigators at the VA, and all the information released has only led to more questions. What is most important is that the facts come out and we find out all the details, every single horrible detail.
We send our loved ones to any medical facility to be taken care of and treated for the illnesses or injuries that they may have, not to be compromised and even murdered. But, if that happens, who can be held responsible. The person that commits these heinous crimes will be held criminally accountable, but how much responsibility does the hospital hold? What about the VA and the rest of the federal government?
As with any case, suing the government, let alone the Federal government, can be complicated. There are hoops to jump through to make sure those that are liable be held responsible. In every single wrongful death case, the pain and suffering continue for a long time, and the only reprieve in some cases is to make sure that those that allowed these horrible actions to take place, and continue, are held accountable.
The Federal Government has some level of sovereign immunity. That affords them the right not to be sued under many circumstances. However, the Federal Tort Claims Act does provide some reasons that the government can be sued, and they are as follows:
- The negligence must have occurred at the hands of a federal employee and NOT an independent contractor.
- The wrongful doing must have been within the scope of the person’s employment, like a caretaker at the VA.
- The claim must be of negligence and not intentional conduct. (This will be a hurdle for the families suing the VA, but did the hospital know about the actions or should they have known and taken action?)
- The claim must be permitted by the state. This is not an issue for West Virginia.
As the next few weeks move forward, we expect to hear more tragic news from the investigators. Who knows how many this will impact? But what we do know, is that those responsible, including any Federal Agency, should be held accountable for not only the families, but for those that died at the hands of a murderer at the VA.