If I had a nickel for every time I had a Veteran tell me that he wanted to sue the VA for his Service Connected Disability, I’d have about $10.45. First of all, no one said anything about suing the VA, and second, we understand why many mightthink that’s what they are doing when they apply for disability benefits. Due to the fact that this happens so much that I could fictionally buy a value meal at a fast food chain I decided to do what I always do, write a blog.
I had a professor once tell me that most conflicts arise because people fail to define their terms. I believed him too because he had a lot of enemies. However, the misconception about suing the VA exists because many people are not aware of how certain terms are defined. To alleviate this problem, let’s define a few terms. A lawsuit is defined as a common term for a legal action by one person or entity against another person or entity, to be decided in a court of law, sometimes just called a "suit."(www.law.com) Honestly, that definition does not clear things up too well. So, let’s put it into terms that we regular people can understand. When you sue another individual or company, you are seeking a benefit that is a result of injury or harm they caused you. There is a chance that if you joined any branch of the military you were aware that there were some risks associated with your service. Thus you can’t really sue the military for your injuries. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs was established to compensate those who were brave enough to serve our country. They do this by providing medical care, specialty programs, and disability compensation. Disability Compensation is an entitlement to Veterans who were injured while serving.
You are probably now asking “If I am not suing anyone, why do they have attorneys, judges, and legal proceedings?” My cynical answer is that it’s the government and they don’t make anything easy. However, since I plan to someday be a US senator from the commonwealth of Kentucky, I will provide a proper answer. In my perfect world every person who served in our Military would be granted 100% service connection and given a new Corvette. Unfortunately if that were to happen our VA would go broke, or we would have to pay a lot more in taxes…no one wants that. Instead we have to determine if your injuries were caused by the Military. I think we can all agree that the VA shouldn’t compensate you if you wrecked your car 10 years after you were discharged. Our job as attorneys, and their job as a government agency, is to make sure your claims are valid. We filter through evidence and submit it to the VA to show that your injuries were a result from time in service, they do the opposite. While it is much more complex than that, this should give you some sort of idea about what the difference is between a lawsuit and obtaining disability benefits.
Now you are probably wondering why I am making such a big deal about the use of words. Is it because I have too much time on my hands, or because I like seeing “written by Jon Corra” at the top of the blogs? While the answer to both of those questions is yes, it does not explain why differentiating a lawsuit from disability benefits is important. One reason is getting non-VA doctors to write opinions to support your claim. If you tell a doctor that you are suing the VA, there is a chance he or she will not want to participate because they believe they may have to go to court. This is not the case with Disability Compensation. The doctors never have to testify before a judge or appear at a hearing. Their evidence is just submitted to the VA.
This should give you a better idea of what you are filing for with the VA. However, if after reading this you are still confused, give me a call, and we can discuss it further. My toll free number is 1-877-526-3457, or you can fill out our online contact form, and I will give you a call.