As settlements go, it was a distinctly modest one: We resolved the case against the VA for $100,000. We didn’t need to file suit. What is noteworthy about the case is that it involved the tragic suicide of a young veteran.
The veteran didn’t leave a spouse or a child and the case was out of California, meaning the recovery was limited by that state’s $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. According to the records, he was estranged from his family, but both before and after his death his mother would not give up. She was dogged. First in trying to help her son, and then in seeking some form of justice for his death.
The care provided to the veteran was not good. Truly, you didn’t need to be a psychiatrist to figure that out. However, what is really tough about suicide cases is that even the worst of them have a built-in causation defense. Essentially, the medical literature states that predicting suicide in individual cases is next to impossible. Even in the finest institutions, there is no way to make such predictions with any degree of accuracy.
We have taken a number of these cases, as well as other matters involving mental health issues. The stories we hear from families are heartbreaking. We have wanted to help, but were unsure if we could really do anything.
We made it clear to the VA that if it would not resolve the case, then we would file suit – and we really would have done so. To her credit, the VA lawyer was someone we have known for a long time and she clearly wanted to do the right thing by this family. And she did.
I hope our other cases turn out well, but a better outcome would be if these families had not had to turn to us in the first place.
If you are a Veteran or you know a Veteran who is showing any of these signs, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text to 838255 today.