In 2009 the VA performed a screening colonoscopy on a 68-year-old veteran and found polyps, which were removed. Because the veteran was a higher risk for colon cancer, it was determined that he should have another colonoscopy in five years, rather than the standard 10 years.
It never happened. Even though the veteran had troubling clinical symptoms and suspicious lab results, no one ordered another colonoscopy. No one suspected colon cancer. By the time the cancer was diagnosed in 2017, the disease was well advanced. The veteran lived less than a year and a half after his diagnosis, dying in late 2018.
The widow came to us for help. We took the case and filed a claim for the family. Fortunately, the VA lawyer assigned to the case was someone with whom we had worked before. She was diligent and the case settled quickly, at least relatively speaking.
The jurisdiction where the case arose was one with a cap on non-economic damages, placing an unfortunate limit on what we could recover for the family under the best of circumstances. The unfairness of such caps is a topic for another day.
The case also required that the settlement be approved by a local state court, which we arranged. Unfortunately, that slowed the process of receiving the settlement funds for almost six months.
Interestingly, the local personal injury lawyer we hired to take care of the state court approval was shocked that we recovered as much money as we did for the family. And we did it without having to file suit.
That lawyer was impressed. He should have been. Even a straightforward FTCA case has its twists and turns. There are nuances which might or might not be fully appreciated by lawyers who do not handle these cases regularly like we do.
We know what we are doing when it comes to FTCA cases. It shows.