Civil Litigation Or VA Disability? It All Depends On Time

Leaving the military presents a unique set of challenges, especially if you're coming back home from overseas. Many veterans haven't been behind the wheel of a car for a long time or may have difficulty adjusting to the way things work back home. Depending on the cause of the injury, it can be difficult to figure out who should pay for it and what it could mean for your continued health. To navigate this difficult situation, review a few scenarios of military service-connected injury situations versus civilian injury situations.

VA Disability Is For Service-Connected Injuries Only

This is one of the most popular programs from the VA disability program. Although the compensation amount changes every year, some veterans can receive roughly $3,000 per month depending on the severity of their conditions. 

The compensation is only for service-connected conditions. This means that your injury or condition must have been caused by military service or related to military service. Unfortunately, if you were injured in a car accident or an incident that you've admitted to causing, it's likely that you aren't eligible for compensation with that condition.

If you have another condition that was caused by military service, you could receive compensation for that unrelated condition. It gets complicated when the two conditions cross paths, such as applying for compensation for injuries sustained from an accident while in the military, then getting into another accident as a civilian.

Consider an unfortunate, but not impossible situation of a veteran who is beginning to recover from a car accident years ago during military service. He or she still has a bit of a limp and is working on a disability claim, but the VA is still trying to determine if the injury is worth compensating. Months after leaving the military and starting a claim, the veteran is involved in another car accident.

The VA could approve the existing injury claim based on existing evidence, or they could deny the evidence and blame continued problems on the second car accident. In either result, you should have a personal injury lawyer to argue your original claim, then to handle the unrelated civil injury case. Trying to divide the two issues is too complex, especially while suffering from potentially life-long conditions.

The Civilian Case Is Unrelated, But The VA Can Still Help

The VA won't be able to give you compensation for a civilian injury, and it most likely won't pay for any hospital bills, but there are some basic services that you can use.

Once you're out of the hospital, you can reduce some of your continuing medical costs by visiting VA facilities such as VA hospitals and clinics. The wait time may be long, but any veteran with an honorable discharge (or anything other than dishonorable) is eligible for at least basic pay.

Although there are no official guarantees of what kind of assistance you could receive beyond examination, basic pain relief and a diagnosis, your local VA may be able to slip you into organized physical therapy groups or refer you to local outreach programs dedicated to helping veterans no matter the circumstance.