Why can’t you sue the United States government from overseas for medical malpractice in the military?

In creating the FTCA, Congress specifically limited its coverage to the United States and its territories. Therefore, claims which arise out of injuries occurring overseas, i.e., Germany, England, Korea, etc., are not covered by the FTCA. However, they are covered by a statute called the Military Claims Act.

The major difference between these statutes is that under the MCA the claimant has no right to sue the United States in court. It may be unfair, but it is the law.

The Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity is a vestige of the common law which the United States adopted when it was created. That doctrine states that a citizen cannot sue the government without the government’s permission. Prior to 1946, no citizen could sue the United States government for any injury caused by a government employee. In that year, however, Congress passed the FTCA which provided for the partial waiver of its sovereign immunity. It did not include claims arising overseas. To fill in this gap, Congress passed the Military Claims Act which has its own special rules – one of which is that no claim can be filed in a federal district court.