Under the Feres doctrine, military personnel cannot sue the government for injuries incurred as the result of their military service.
The effect is the Feres doctrine essentially prohibits service members from claiming compensation or damages from the United States Government for those personal injuries experienced in the performance of their duties as military personnel. The doctrine also extends to families of service members from filing a number of claims, in particular, wrongful death or loss of consortium actions.
However, the doctrine does not extend to killed or injured family members. In other words, in such circumstances, a spouse or child may still sue the United States for personal injury claims.
There have been a number of occasions when the Court has excluded the operation of the doctrine in those circumstances where active duty members have been allowed to sue for injuries when the court found that civilians could have been harmed in the same manner under the same circumstances in which the service member’s injuries occurred.
Furthermore, there are occasions for example, in military aircraft accidents, when the injuries or wrongful deaths are caused by other parties outside of the military. In such cases, the victims and their families may have a personal injury claim.
Erin and her team have assisted a number of US military personnel both better understand and assert their legal rights.