There’s an old rule of law that says a member of the military can’t sue the government for injuries that are connected to service. That’s generally true even if the person could normally bring a lawsuit against someone else in similar circumstances – for instance, if a soldier were injured due to medical malpractice at a VA hospital, or harmed during peacetime in a barracks fire caused by a defective heater.
However, that doesn’t mean that soldiers and their families are completely without hope of compensation.
In a recent case, a Navy SEAL named Alexander Ghane was engaged in a combat training exercise at a private Mississippi gun range when a bullet struck him through a gap in his bulletproof vest.
The Navy had organized the training exercise at the range, which both the military and law enforcement agencies had used for training for years.
Ghane’s mother sued the shooting range, saying that while it had claimed the training facility was able to handle such drills safely, the wall through which the bullet passed wasn’t bulletproof as intended.
A judge initially threw out her lawsuit, saying it was prohibited because it involved a question of U.S. military policy and operations.
But the Mississippi Supreme Court disagreed, and said the case didn’t involve military policy, but merely the design, construction and maintenance of a wall at the rented facility – conditions that were in place before the Navy took control of the shooting range.
The court said the gun range had allegedly told the Navy that the walls were capable of withstanding the ammunition and training tactics being used, and if that wasn’t true, it could be liable for the resulting harm.
If you’ve experienced an injury or loss, call us at 864.233.7200 or 1.800.903.8101 for a free telephone consultation.